Members of investigation bodies say they have not been paidThe experts who probed the Makalu Air, Altitude Air, Air Dynasty and Summit Air crashes are yet to get their money.
The members of at least four air crash investigation commissions have not been paid for their services which, observers say, makes one suspect the government's seriousness towards aviation safety.
Two investigators to whom the Post talked said the compensation was not only 'very small', they had not been able to get even this paltry sum. An investigator is paid around Rs45,000 per month. Usually, it takes three to four months to produce an investigation report.
"It's been almost a year, and the government still has not released the remuneration," said one of the two investigators who wished to remain anonymous. "This exhibits how serious the government is towards aviation safety."
There is no permanent investigation commission, and the government often constitutes an ad hoc body by hiring investigators.
The government should create an independent air crash accident investigation commission in case of incidents and accidents as per the provision of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Regulation 2014 to find out the reasons behind the crash, and recommend measures to stop such mishaps in the future.
"In Nepal, it is difficult to hire investigators or experts as there are so few of them. They have to give most of their time to the investigation," said a Tourism Ministry official who asked not to be named because he was not allowed to speak to the media.
"The government pays us peanuts. As a result, the Tourism Ministry has to scramble to find experts every time an accident occurs," he said, adding how the specialists could deliver quality work if they are not paid in a timely manner.
Tri Ratna Manandhar, former director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal who has been involved in a number of investigation commissions, said he had not been paid for the report on the Makalu Air crash that occurred in Simikot last year.
"In Nepal, the government does not value investigators while it's a well-paid job abroad. Here, they have to spend their own money to prepare the report. It's disappointing," he told the Post.
According to the Tourism Ministry source, members of the commissions that investigated the Makalu Air, Altitude Air, Air Dynasty and Summit Air crashes are yet to get their money.
Tourism Joint Secretary Buddhi Sagar Lamichhane said the Finance Ministry did not allow the Tourism Ministry to transfer funds from one heading to another in the last fiscal year. As a result, the ministry was unable to pay the investigators and other members of different commissions.
"We have written about this to the Finance Ministry, and it is expected to release the budget soon," he said. The investigators and members of the commission that probed the US-Bangla plane crash have been paid as the cabinet had fixed their remuneration.
"Starting this fiscal year, we have earmarked funds under the investigation heading," he said.
Finance Ministry officials did not respond immediately to the Post's repeated calls.
The Tourism Ministry is preparing a separate guideline for the payment of commission members and investigators. A copy of the proposal obtained by the Post shows that the ministry has recommended a monthly salary of Rs55,000 for the chief investigator and Rs50,000 for the member-secretary and commission members.
As per the proposal, the investigators and members will also get an additional Rs5,000 as transportation allowance.
Until 2011, the Tourism Ministry used to conduct investigations into air crashes at the expense of the airlines. The ministry started conducting investigations with state funding as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) safety audit recommendation. As per ICAO's safety audit, state resources should be used to investigate an air crash.