KATHMANDU, August 27
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) is silent about investigating Managing Director of Nepal Oil Corporation Gopal Khadka although parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on August 5 asked it to take action against him.
The anti-graft body has, however, started investigations into the property of about a dozen senior staff of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) although the purpose of the investigations is not clear. CIAA officials were not available for comment about the matter despite repeated requests.
According to media reports, NOC’s Khadka is involved in a multi-million rupee scam in the purchase of land for building fuel storage facilities. NEA management led by Kulman Ghising is by contrast hugely appreciated for ending load-shedding since October last year.
The CIAA has so far only collected documents concerning the NOC land purchase deals.
Many government officials who did not want to be identified said the CIAA’s only purpose may be to harass the team of NEA Managing Director Ghising, who is seen as something of a ‘national hero’ for cutting power deflection substantially for the first time after a decade.
Ghising has said to aides that the investigations targetting his team have left him helpless, according to NEA sources. Ghising also was not available for any comment. Many feel that this CIAA investigation is uncalled for at a time when the NEA team is trying to continue regular power supply during the dry months that start from October.
Minister for Energy Mahendra Bahadur Shahi confirmed that several NEA staffers are under investigation by CIAA over their property and they are being asked to fill out the notorious 13-page property statement form. “CIAA can investigate holders of public office but the investigation of so many NEA staff has affected service delivery, with those staffers now on leave for about two weeks to work on the property statements,” complained Minister Shahi.
“CIAA investigations into those staffers has affected our plans for ending load shedding in the upcoming months, and several derelict projects they were looking into are not going to get rectified,” said Shahi. The immediate task facing NEA is to improve power supply in the flood-affected areas as well as strengthening the transmission lines in the hills.
“I will talk with the CIAA about this,” said Shahi. CIAA sources that declined to be identified claimed however that the investigations against NEA officials are based on intelligence and are of a preliminary nature. About 500 such preliminary investigation are underway.
NEA officials say it is not just the CIAA that is interfering in its management; the decisions of the parliamentary committees have also not been helpful to NEA in carrying out its activities. The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee’s order to scrap the tender award for a 25 MW solar plant has thrown into uncertainty the installation of the plant as part of an energy mix.