SARLAHI, August 25: Members of a parliamentary committee have said they found that at least Rs 170 million was embezzled when the state-owned Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) procured land in Sarlahi district for the purpose of setting up fuel storage facilities.
NOC purchased 306 kattha [10.36 hectares] of land at Lalbandai Municipality-1 of Sarlahi at the rate of Rs 961,000 per kattha whereas the market rate for the land in the area is not more than Rs 300,000, said lawmaker Dipak Karki, a member of the parliament's Industry, Commerce and Supply Committee.
The committee formed a three-member sub-committee with Karki as coordinator to probe the irregularities in the land purchase process in various districts. The sub-committee members visited Jhapa and Sarlahi districts to investigate the the matter.
"Even if the agents are given Rs 500,000 per kattha, which is double the real price of the land, as commissions, there has been embezzlement of around Rs 170 million in the land procurement process in Sarlahi district alone," Karki told Republica.
After conducting the field visit, the three-member panel spoke to the locals who sold land to the NOC, local political representatives, government officials and other concerned individuals in the district. "The locals have sold land at the rate of Rs 135,000 per kattha in the same area whereas the NOC has paid Rs 900,000 per kattha in the same area," said Karki.
The lawmakers talked to Chief District Officer Pradip Raj Kandel, chief of the District Survey Office and other officials about the matter. District chief of the ruling Maoist Center Kamal Budhathoki said that they have suspected embezzlement worth tens of millions of rupees in the land scam and stressed the need for carrying out an independent investigation and that punishment for the guilty.