Minister Dev seeks 24-hour clarifications from CAAN chief

Published On: September 23, 2017 08:01 AM NPT By: Susheel Bhattarai  | @sushbhattarai

KATHMANDU, Sept 22: Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Jitendra Dev on Friday asked Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Director General Sanjiv Gautam to furnish clarifications over his alleged failure to make Spanish firm Constructora San Jose SA deliver on its contract.

The letter seeking clarifications was sent to the CAAN as Minister Dev apparently remains determined to remove Gautam from the top post at the country’s civil aviation regulatory body. 
Dev had gone to his office even on a public holiday on Thursday to hold a meeting with Secretary Maheshwar Neupane and other senior ministry officials and take a decision on seeking clarifications from Gautam.

“A letter of the ministerial decision seeking clarifications within 24 hours from Gautam has already been sent to CAAN,” said a source at the ministry. “The response to the letter is likely by Sunday.”
Sources said Dev exchanged Dashain greetings with the staff at the ministry Friday after sending off the clarifications letter to CAAN. DG Gautam, however, was not present in the office as he was on emergency leave. Gautam will now receive the letter only on Sunday.

DG Gautam, however, was not present in the office as he was on emergency leave.

“Minister Dev will then remove Gautam from CAAN, saying his clarifications were not satisfactory and reassign him to the ministry,” said a source at the ministry.  A CAAN director general was removed and recalled to the ministry in similar fashion in the past also.

Former tourism minister Ananda Prasad Pokharel has strongly protested Minister Dev’s decision to seek 24-hour clarifications from Gautam. “If Gautam is removed, it will substantiate the existence of institutional corruption [at CAAN],” said Pokharel speaking at a function organized by Reporters’ Club Nepal in Kathmandu. 

Pokharel said, “Any move to oust Gautam will be proof of naked criminalization.”
The CAAN had terminated the contract of Constructora San Jose SA and put it on a blacklist after it failed to complete the improvement work at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) by the given deadline. 

However, taking the side of the controversial company, Dev had earlier sought an 11-point clarification from Gautam. Sources said there were attempts to oust Gautam before this also. 
They said power brokers as well as the top political leadership are involved in the controversial bid by Dev to remove Gautam. Acting Prime Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, his son Subhash Gachchhadar, senior officials of TIA and a few airline entrepreneurs are in the game to oust Gautam. 

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