Watchdog seeks action against five govt officialsUrban Development Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki faces corruption charge a second time
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority on Tuesday asked the government to take departmental action against five more senior government officials including Urban Development Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki on the charge of corruption while procuring logistics meant for earthquake survivors.
The anti-graft body wrote
to the Prime Minister’s
Office directing it to take action against them for irregularities while purchasing tents and tarpaulins in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake.
Along with Karki, who is in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Planning, Joint-secretaries Basu Dev Guragain and Shambhu KC, Senior Division Engineer Nilim Kumar Dangol and chief accountant Narayan Niraula were recommended departmental action.
“Our investigation showed that they had not been working in accordance with their given responsibilities,” CIAA Spokesperson Krishna Hari Pushkar said.
According to the Civil Service Act, action against the guilty ranges from suspension to disqualification for promotion and grade increment. “Since the wrongdoing while purchasing relief for earthquake survivors is a serious case, we have asked the government to take stern action,” said Pushkar, adding, however, that it was up to the government how to take the CIAA directive.
In the letter sent to the PMO, the CIAA stated that public procurement was flouted while contracting private firms for purchasing relief materials. A CIAA investigation found discrepancies in the price of tents and tarpaulins. “The tents purchased by the ministry were substandard and the officials were responsible for approving the faulty deal,” the CIAA states.
Karki and his team had awarded Baniya Trades, Him Shikar Supply and Traders, SP Enterprises, Rockey Enterprises and Bana Enterprises in the second lot of procurement.
The Urban Development Ministry had purchased tents worth Rs110 million from private firms. When the CIAA tested their quality, the goods were found to be substandard and expensive.
This is the second time the CIAA has dragged government officials to action on the charge of abusing their authority with the intent of pocketing state funds during the national emergency.
In September, seven people including three senior government officials and four
private suppliers were charged with misappropriating millions of rupees during the relief process.
The tent scam surfaced immediately after the earthquake when the National Vigilance Centre and an
internal committee formed by the Urban Development Ministry found the role of senior officials in awarding faulty contracts and inflating the prices of goods.
The case was later taken
up by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee which also confirmed that senior officials including
then Urban Development Minister Narayan Khadka and Secretary Karki were involved in irregularities during relief procurement and distribution.
The corruption watchdog gave Khadka a clean chit but recommended action against Karki while filing a case in September. The government, however, did nothing in Karki’s case.
This is the second time the anti-graft body wrote to the PMO for action on the basis of its investigation into the relief material procurement in the second lot.