KATHMANDU, Feb 16: Rather than investigating misuse of millions meant for earthquake victims, Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) has formed a committee to find out who was involved in leaking information to media about the funds misuse.
NRCS recently formed a three-member probe committee headed by Vice-chairman Ajit Kumar Sharma and including central executive committee member Surya Chandra Neupane and executive director Indra Bahadur KC. The committee has initiated investigations to find out who was involved in leaking information about misuse of money received from donors on the purchase of various luxury items instead of channelling it into the real tasks of earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation.
“We cannot remain silent when this kind of fake news surfaces in media. So, our committee is investigating who was behind the leak,” Vice-chairman Sharma told Republica.
He said the committee is investigating to find out who was trying to taint the organization's image. “Such a leak is a challenge to the management,” he said.
Sharma also said that some officials in the organization might have leaked the information in order to taint members of the central executive committee in view of the upcoming general convention election.
The committee has been given a month to investigate the matter and submit recommendations to the management, he said, adding that the organization may take departmental action if anyone is found involved.
Earlier, Republica had obtained documents showing that NRCS spent over Rs 245 million given by various donors on foreign trips, procuring of items like cars, motorbikes, scooters, computers, pen drives and other accessories and providing fat salaries to staff. The money was meant for earthquake relief. NRCS was also found to have spent over Rs 7 million holding its annual review meeting at a luxury hotel in Chitwan.
NCRC decided to form the committee after Republica ran stories about gross misuse of funds received for helping earthquake victims still living under tents.
Probe committee member KC said the committee will recommend necessary measures to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future as it really taints the organization's image. “Who is leaking the information and why is our main concern,” he added.
The committee has already interrogated director of the Human Resource Department at NRCS Rishi Raman Khanal and deputy-director at the Disaster Management Department Hari Mohan Shrestha, according to a source. “Formation of the committee is an attempt to discourage staff and volunteers from exposing further rregularities within the organization,” said the source.
Similarly, the trade union at NRCS also issued a statement recently expressing serious objection to the involvement of officials in leaking information.
“After the news reports were published in various media, we had issued a statement and appealed all the officials to refrain from such activities,” said Dambar Bahadur Bista, chairman of the trade union.