Lawmaker probing NOC land buy scam feels security threat

Published On: September 2, 2017 03:15 AM NPT By: Dilip Poudel

KATHMANDU, Sept 1: A lawmaker involved in probing corruption  in the procurement of land by state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) has complained of security threat.

 NOC Managing Director Gopal Khadka, who is trying to come clean in the deal through various  means, has started exerting psychological pressure on lawmakers to not  expedite the probe.
Khadka, who had earlier issued threats against a Nagarik reporter, has now started making psychological threats against lawmakers through his brokers. 

Lawmaker Ram Bir Manandhar, a member of parliament's Committee on Industry, Commerce and Consumer Rights and Welfare, said security threats  increased shortly after he returned to Kathmandu from a field study in connection with corruption over the NOC land procurement. 
“There has been security threat after the probe into the NOC land procurement was expedited. Undue pressure is coming from various persons over the phone,” he said. 

Manandhar, however, said that he won't back down no matter how much pressure is exerted against him. He was  part of the lawmakers' probe team led by Dipak Karki that visited Jhapa and Sarlahi to probe  the controversial land procurement. 

Separate teams led by lawmakers Subhash Chandra Thakuri and Janak Budha had visited Chitwan and Bhairahawa, respectively. NOC had bought land in these places to establish fuel depots. 
Probe sub-committee coordinator Thakuri said they will soon submit their report to the parliamentary committee. Manandhar and Karki have uncovered the involvement of former supply minister Dipak Bohora as well in the land procurement deal.

Top NOC officials and brokers involved in the deal had exerted pressure on landowners who sold their land to NOC not to disclose the real price even before the probe teams left for their field study
Khadka has also filed a defamation case against Nagarik daily, which has been exposing huge corruption  in the land procurement. In the petition filed at Kathmandu District Court, he has sought Rs 800 million in damages.

Lawmakers have said that Khadka's morale was boosted after the government  failed to act against him despite his clear involvement in the scam. Lawmakers in the Public Account Committee have criticized even Supply Minister Shiva Kumar Mandal, who has remained mum over such  corruption. 

NOC has been found indulging in financial irregularities amounting to over Rs 700 million while procuring plots of land in various locations to build fuel storage facilities. NOC is found to have paid as high as four times the market price to purchase plots of land in Rupandehi, Chitwan, Sarlahi and Jhapa districts

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