KATHMANDU, June 21: The CIAA on Thursday filed a corruption case against 13 officials working at the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, including the department’s director general Sanjeev Kumar Karna, on the charge of misusing Rs 240 million while procuring mobile laboratory vans.
Four well-equipment mobile laboratory vans purchased for the Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernization Project were found to be sub-standard, according to the anti-graft body.
The vans are said to have been purchased in breach of public procurement law and the specifications of vans procured were not up to the tender requirements.
The charge sheet filed at the Special Court has dragged in DG Karna, senior food investigation officer Purna Chandra Wasti, accountant Rabita Shrestha and non-gazetted staffers Gurudatta Gautam and Bhagirath Acharya. Seven officials working under the PM Agriculture Modernization Project have also been taken to court on the charge of assisting the faulty procurement deal.
After a complaint was filed at the CIAA stating that the department chief and other officials purchased sub-standard mobile vans to pocket a hefty amount as commission, the anti-graft body started its investigations. During the investigations parts of the vans were found to be not up to the specifications demanded in tender, said CIAA spokesman Pradeep Kumar Koirala.
“Suggestions of technical committee were overlooked and the standards of public procurement law were breached,” said Koirala.
An investigation carried out by the anti-graft body has also implicated the project’s under-secretary Ganesh Prasad Chalise, accountant Balram Pokharel, the then project director Narahari Prasad Ghimire, senior agricultural scientist Saroj Adhikari, senior planning officer Tilakraj Chaulagain, project director Laxman Prasad Paudel and senior monitoring and evaluation officer Indrahari Paudel.
Prabin Kunwar, a local agent of Prudent Meditech International, the company involved in supplying the mobile vans, has also been charge-sheeted.
The CIAA had sought Rs 120 million from director general Karna, director Wasti and Gurudatta Gautam and Rs 40 million from Acharya.
Likewise, the anti-graft body has sought Rs. 120 million from under-secretary Uprety, accountant Pokharel, then project director Ghimire, senior agro engineer Adhikari and senior planning officer Chaulagain.
The anti-corruption body has sought Rs 240 million from Kunwar, a local representative of the mobile van supplier company.
The PM Agriculture Modernization Project was launched after KP Oli came to power. The project, however, has not attracted the youths and government-announced incentives have not brought the desired results. Instead, the program has plunged into controversy after government officials responsible for handling it were accused of involved in irregularities.