KATHMANDU, July 26: Dolendra Prasad Sharma, chairman and general manager of Sajha Prakashan, has been reportedly gobbling up millions every year, printing books outside the publishing house but under the Sajha logo.
Sajha Prakashan publishes the textbooks Sabaiko Nepali, Link English and Ek Chihan for Grades XI and XII compulsory subjects. The number of students in Grade XI is increasing every year. But the official record of books published by Sajha Prakashan has been decreasing after Sharma was appointed GM.
According to the trade unions at Sajha Prakashan, Sajha published 145,000 book copies in 2014; 50,000 in 2015; 50,000 in 2016 and 63,000 in 2017.
The student numbers in Grade XI were 366,943 in 2014; 370,661 in 2015; 374,398 in 2016 and 448,926 in 2017, according to the National Examination Board (NEB) .“More than 50 percent of students in Grade XI study inside Kathmandu Valley,” said Jayanti Satyal, deputy controller at NEB.
Sabaiko Nepali, Link English and Ek Chihan are available easily enough in the market. “But the official print run figure is seven times less than the total number of students,” said Sajha officials. “We don’t known how and from where the books are supplied in the market,” they said.
According to officials at Sajha Prakashan, Sharma has earned at least Rs 20 million annually, selling the books printed outside Sajha Prakashan. Sharma is accused of printing the books under the Sajha logo but through private presses. Sharma transferred ownership of his own press, Oxford International, and converted it into Alpine Offset Press, after he assumed the post of GM at Sajha Prakashan.
Records at Sajha Chitwan Branch Office show that it sold 7,000 copies of Sabaiko Nepali this year while the market demand is about 15,000 copies annually. “The booksellers themselves said they bring the books directly from Kathmandu,” said officials at the Chitwan branch. “There is no shortage of the books in the market.”
Similarly, Sajha Purbanchal Branch Office informed that around 30,000 to 35,000 copies of Sabaiko Nepali were distributed before Sharma became GM, but only around 5,000 copies were distributed this year. Likewise, Sajha Dhangadhi Branch Office informed that 3,600 copies were distributed officially this year while the market demand is more than 39,000 copies. “The book is easily available in the market though Sajha has officially supplied only a meager number of them,” they said.
The story in Kathmandu Valley is more interesting. More than 50 percent of students study in the Valley while only 2,900 copies of Sabaiko Nepali were sold this year.
Similarly, 1,500 copies of Link English and 1,200 copies of Ek Chihan were sold as of Tuesday, according to the Sajha Prakashan sales counter at Bishwa Bhasha Campus.
Sajha Prakashan pays 10 percent royalty to the writers and 10 percent to NEB. When books are sold outside official channels, both the writers and NEB are cheated, said Sajha officials. Printing one copy of Sabaiko Nepali costs only Rs 100 but it is sold to students at Rs 300 in the market.
Sajha provides 20 percent discount on the purchase of 500 copies of a book published by it, 25 percent discount for more than 1,000 copies, and 30 percent for the purchase of more 200,000 copies. Private shops are selling the same books at 30 percent discount. “This shows that something is amiss,” said the Sajha officials.
A bookseller in Kathmandu said he gets 30 percent discount while purchasing a small number of books. The books are available at Oxford Book Shop at Anamnagar, NK Publisher and Distributors, Heritage Publisher and Distributors, Anu Books and Biddhya Books, said the bookseller.
GM Sharma admitted that Oxford Book Shop is owned by himself. Sharma claimed that 25 percent discount is provided in the purchase of less than 1,000 copies and 35 percent discount for more than 1 million copies.
Book shops located near the Sajha office in Lalitpur used to buy from Sajha in previous yeas. However, none of them has come to Sajha this year, said the officials. “Four years ago all the books were sold out but this time a huge stock remains although only 63,000 copies were printed.”
Sharma refuses to monitor market
GM Sharma has shown disinterest in monitoring the market even though Sajha officials urged him to examine the unofficial sale of books under the Sajha logo.
“We urged the GM to monitor the market after we received reports that a huge number of books were being distributed in the market unofficially,” said an official.
Diluck Hamal, a Sajha official, was assigned to monitor Sajha’s Dhanagadhi branch. However, Hamal returned after visiting Pawan Book Shop in Dhanagadhi. Sources claimed that Hamal returned after finalizing a deal with Pawan Book Shop as instructed by Sharma. The book shop buys directly from Kathmandu rather than through Sajha Dhangadhi branch. “After Republica inquired at the shop on Tuesday, they quickly purchased some books from Sajha.”