KATHMANDU, Jan 3: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Jitendra Narayan Dev has again started lobbying to remove Sanjiv Gautam from the position of director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
The minister expressed his anger against Maheshwar Neupane, secretary at the ministry, and the Election Commission in a cabinet meeting on December 28 accusing them of preventing him from removing Gautam from the post for not cooperating with him.
“The secretary [Neupane] didn't cooperate with me. Later, I was summoned by the Election Commission on the same issue,” a highly-placed source quoted Dev as saying at the cabinet meeting. “Now, there is no hindrance of the election code of conduct but the secretary has been resisting the appointment and transfer of officials.”
A highly-placed source at the ministry said that the minister has been working hard to appoint Joint Secretary Suresh Acharya as the DG of CAAN.
Then, the minister had directed Neupane to prepare a proposal to appoint Acharya in place of Gautam. “However Neupane didn't abide by his direction,” said the source. “Neupane went to Pokhara on Tuesday to avoid his involvement in the controversial decision.” Now the minister wants to forward his proposal directly to the cabinet, said the source.
According to sources, Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi, too, is against the minister's proposal.
Sources said the minister wants to renew lease agreement of business lounge of Hotel Radisson and other around three dozen of shops and stalls inside Tribhuwan International Airport for ten years. However Gautam has objected to this proposal. “As Gautam was for opening a tender and awarding the lease to anyone offering the highest amount, the minister became angry with him,” said the source.
Minister Dev didn't want to talk to Republica on this issue. Joint Secretary Acharya told Republica that he wouldn't make any comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, private airlines operators have protested against the minister's plan to remove Gautam from the position. “There is something wrong in the plan to remove DG of the CAAN at a time when the civil aviation is undergoing through a serious crisis,” said Buddha Air Managing Director Birendra Bahadur Basnet. “Now the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority should investigate into the matter.” He also said that the present outgoing government has no authority to take any decision having a long-term policy impact.
Managing Director of Summit Air, Manoj Karki, and Chief Executive Officer of Fishtail Air, Suman Pandey said that Gautam should be given more time as he has tried to make some positive changes in the aviation sector.