Hima Griha on the shore of Fewa Lake in this file photo. Photo: Republica
KATHMANDU, Dec 29: Yeti Holdings, which secured leases and a lease extension for prime properties belonging to the Nepal Trust such as Gokarna Forest Resort and land on Durbarmarg and in Kalimati at bargain-basement rates, has initiated quiet political maneuverings to secure a lease on yet another prime property belonging to the Trust, in Pokhara.
Government officials familiar with the matter said Yeti Holdings is using political influence to secure a lease on Hima Griha, which spreads across 10 ropani and four aana of land on the shores of Phewa Lake at a similarly cheaper price. The company wants to run a hotel and develop various other tourist facilities on the land.
Although a decision to lease out the property was taken by Nepal Trust on April 20, 2016 when KP Oli was prime minister, it could not be implemented as locals staged demonstrations against it. But with Oli now back in power, the Yeti group is making moves again to secure the lease.
“The Yeti group had put forth various options such as building a five-star hotel, an organic garden, a club and a tourist market. Since locals protested against giving out public property for commercial purposes, the decision could not be implemented,” said an official at Nepal Trust on condition of anonymity.
The Nepal Trust secretary confirmed that preparations are being made to lease the land to some private party. He said Hima Niwas, Diyalo Bunglow and other properties belong to the Trust in Pokhara are being targeted for lease to augment the income of the Trust.
This comes in the wake widespread criticism against the government for providing prime property under Nepal Trust to a certain business group which is close to the prime minister, without following any open, transparent and competitive bidding process.
The government has drawn flak for extending the lease for Gokarna Forest Resort for 25 years --six years before the expiry of the current lease —and for prime property on Durbarmarg in a very non-transparent fashion and at far less than the going market rate.