OAG finds discrepancies in Bouddhanath stupa reconstruction

Published On: April 17, 2018 07:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 17: Office of the Auditor General (OAG) has said that Bouddhanath Area Development Committee (BADC) used 16.42 kg more gold than the accepted norms for reconstruction of Bouddhanath Stupa.

The excess gold used for reconstruction of the stupa, which was damaged in the 2015 earthquakes, is worth Rs 88.8 million. The constitutional body has stated that the use of higher quantity of gold for reconstruction should be investigated.

Total gold required for reconstruction was only 14.58 kg as per the standard norms of using a quarter of tola (11.664 grams) for each square feet of the steeple of stupa, according to Department of Archeology. But a total of 31 kg of gold was used for the purpose, states the work completion report. 

The committee breached the norms by using half tola of gold per square feet, according to the 55th Audit Report unveiled recently by the OAG.

The gold used for reconstruction was collected as donation from local people. A priest named Tai Situpa Rinpoche alone had contributed 29 kg of gold for the reconstruction.
The reconstruction of 15th century monument was completed in November 2016. The reconstruction work was implemented by Boudhanath Area Development Committee (BADC).

Discrepancies have also been found in preparation of cost estimates, according to the report. The estimated cost was calculated at Rs 82.2 million by taking into account half tola of gold per square feet. According to the estimate, 5,586 square feet of area in the stupa needed to be gold-plated.

The committee has also been found not maintaining proper record of gold collection. “Gold collected from a Chinese donor has also been included in the volume used in reconstruction,” the OAG said in its report. “There is not proper record of use of gold in coating of steeple and three other parts of the stupa,” reads an excerpt of the report.

The OAG has also found irregularities in hiring of workforce for the work. Two members of the committee mobilized the workforce sans competitive bidding and the estimated cost of rebuilding the stupa was increased by 76.43 percent to Rs 219.8 million from the estimated Rs 124.67 million. But cost variation of this spending has not been approved by the committee.  

The discrepancies included paying additional lunch on top of standard wage rates of the district. The committee also breached law by not taking prior permission from the National Planning Commission and Ministry of Finance while taking donations from foreigners, the report states.

Earlier, the committee had informed media persons that the estimated reconstruction cost was Rs 184.5 million. It had said that Rs 30 million was collected from its members, while Rs 142.2 million came from domestic and foreign donors.

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