KATHMANDU, Sept 25: The Ministry of Education (MoE) on Sunday sacked Dolindra Prasad Sharma, chairman and general manager (GM) of Sajha Prakashan, for being involved in multiple irregularities.
An MoE meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Gopal Man Shrestha on Sunday decided to sack Sharma from the post of chairperson, GM and member of Sajha board, according to Hari Prasad Lamsal, spokesman at the MoE. “We dismissed him from all the posts he held at Sajha,” said Lamsal, “The ministry will soon decide about the interim management of the publishing house.”
Unsatisfied with the first clarification submitted by Sharma, the MoE sought a second clarification from him, asking “why you shouldn’t be sacked” on September 12. Earlier, a meeting of the ministry held on September 4 had decided to seek clarification from Sharma on the basis of the report prepared by the ministry regarding irregularities at the state-owned publishing house, giving him three days to respond.
Sharma has been accused of appointing those close to political leaders and media persons at Sajha, not carrying out audit after he was appointed at Sajha, not maintaining records of annual incomes and book publications, allowing private publishers to use Sajha logo, transferring Rs 5 million from Sajha to the GM’s account, and also serving as chairman against the rules.
The MoE on July 27 formed a committee to probe into the irregularities at Sajha. The committee which was given 15 days to submit its report was headed by Ganesh Dhakal, undersecretary at the Monitoring and Evaluation Division of the MoE and included Resham Sigdel, undersecretary at the Law Section and Bhola Nath Paudel, accounts officer of the MoE as members.
On August 3, the MoE removed Paudel from the probe committee as Sharma appointed Paudel’s wife Nabina at Sajha after the formation of the committee. The ministry nominated Sunita Khanal, accounts officer at the Department of Education, to replace Paudel.
The panel submitted its report to DPM Shrestha about four weeks ago recommending the immediate sacking of the Sajha board and taking action against those involved in the irregularities. Sajha Prakashan board members include nominated members Pradip Nepal, Dinanath Sharma and Dr Krishna Hari Baral and elected members Bijaya Subba, Harihar Khanal and Jeevan Chandra Koirala.
Sharma was appointed the GM of Sajha by the then education minister Chitra Lekha Yadav on January 19, 2015. Sharma was also given the post of chairperson on July 26, 2015. His terms ended in January 2017. In January 2017 when Dhani Ram Paudel was the education minister, Sharma was reappointed the chairman and GM for four years.
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of parliament has been investigating the irregularities at Sajha Prakashan. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), too, has started a probe into the alleged irregularities at Sajha after news reports about the irregularities were published in Republica and Nagarik dailies.
A total of 30 news reports about Sajha irregularities were published in Republica since July 22.
Sajha Prakashan, the state-owned publishing house established 105 years ago, is well known for publishing literary works in the country. However, it has been in a sorry state during the last decade due to mismanagement and irregularities taking place under political protection.