KATHMANDU, Jan 11: Patan High Court on Friday has ordered a halt to the ongoing construction of a business complex by Yeti Holdings Pvt Ltd at Durbarmarg on the land owned by Nepal Trust.
A single bench of Chief Judge Nahakul Subedi issued an interlocutory stay order following initial hearing into the case and summoned the authorities — the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and the Nepal Trust — to attend a hearing on for January 15 to decide whether to continue the stay order.
The bench also asked the High Court Bar Association Patan to send two amicus curiae –senior advocates or advocates — to assist the court to decide the matter.
The court issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by advocate Parivartan Rai challenging Nepal Trust’s decision to lease the land to Yeti Holdings at a throwaway price.
Yeti Holdings had secured the precious land at extremely cheap rate using its political connections.
Thamserku Trekking Private Limited, a company owned by the family of the late Ang Tshering Sherpa is found to have secured the lease for the 1 ropani and 14 ana land at Rs 5 million per year using the political influence of Prime Minister KP Oli himself.
The trekking company is currently constructing a huge building on the land. The exterior of the building has already been completed and work is underway on the interiors.
According to the documents made available to Republica, Nepal Trust and Thamserku Trekking reached a lease agreement for 30 years on May 28, 2017 at Rs 5 million per year as rent.
Many Durbar Marg shops that pay an average of Rs 400,000 in rent per shop per month were taken aback upon learning that the one ropani and 14 ana was given for just Rs 406,000 a month.
After the controversial lease agreement, which was made without soliciting competitive bids, came to light, the role of the Executive Committee Board of Nepal Trust has fallen under serious public scrutiny.
A former secretary at Nepal Trust said the board members had leased the land to Thamserku Trekking, a subsidiary of Yeti Holdings owned by the Sherpa family, through the influence of the highest political office.
Clause 5 (1) of the Nepal Trust Act states that the property of the Trust shall be utilized in the interest of the nation which will serve greater and the best public interest. Trust property may be utilized to establish and operate educational or academic institutions like a school, college, university, etc and to provide donations for the operation of such institutions, to establish public medical institutions such as a hospital or health post and to operate such entities in the manner prescribed, the Act states.
Officials at Nepal Trust seem to have flouted this provision when Thamserku Trekking was given the property for purely commercial use. Although the agreement between Nepal Trust and Thamserku Trekking was reached on May 28, 2017, an amendment to the Nepal Trust Act purportedly for validating the agreement seems to have been brought in on March 3, 2019 -- some 21 months later.