CIAA hauls six into courtThe Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday filed a case at the Special Court against six individuals on charge of ‘attempting to embezzle’ Rs272.45 million while selecting a consultant for the detailed feasibility study of the Nalsing Gad Hydropower Project.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Sunday filed a case at the Special Court against six individuals on charge of ‘attempting to embezzle’ Rs272.45 million while selecting a consultant for the detailed feasibility study of the Nalsing Gad Hydropower Project.
It is the case involving the highest amount of corruption since the removal of Lok Man Singh Karki as CIAA chief by the Supreme Court in January.
The anti-graft body has indicted Executive Director of Nalsing Gad Hydropower Development Committee Moti Bahadur Kuwar, immediate senior divisional engineer Surya Prasad Rijal and immediate account officer Ananda Prasad Chapagain, Senior Divisional Engineer at the Energy Ministry Gokarna Raj Panth and immediate legal officer at the Department of Electricity Development Rajesh Kumar Thapa and Udeep Lal Shrestha, authorised representative of the consultant, has been dragged to the Special Court.
Following the filing of the charge sheet, the government officials have been suspended from their posts as per the Corruption Prevention Act 2002. According to the anti-graft body, the Nalsing Gad Hydropower Development Committee had selected SMEC International Pvt Ltd, Australia JV with MWH International Inc, USA in association with Udaya Consultancy (P) Ltd, Nepal (SMEC-MWH-Uday) for the job and signed a contract with it on May 5, 2016 although the joint venture company had quoted much higher price than its immediate competitor.
The quoted price of Rs940.8 million for the task—updating of feasibility study, detailed engineering survey and design, and environmental impact assessment study of 410MW Storage project by the SMEC-MWH-Uday was Rs272.45 million higher as compared to what its immediate competitor in the bidding—AF Consultant, Switzerland JV, Nepal Environment and Scientific Services Pvt Ltd Nepal and Hydro-Consult Engineering Ltd Nepal (AFC-HCENESS).
Besides, the amount quoted by SMEC-MWH-Uday was exclusive of the Value Added Tax and non-competitive provisional sums as specified in the public notice issued by the committee. “So the selection of SMEC-MWH-Uday was aimed at causing a loss of Rs272.45 million to the Project Development Committee, with an intent of benefiting certain party,” the CIAA said in a press statement.
Khagendra Prasad Rijal, assistant spokesperson for the CIAA, said that the anti-graft body has sought Rs136.22 million in fines from each defendant along with one year imprisonment as per Clause 21 of the Corruption Prevention Act 2002.
“As the work on the project has not been completed, it is an attempted corruption. So, the fine has been halved as per Clause 21 of the Act,” said Rijal. SMEC-MWH-Uday was awarded 1.25 points more than it deserved, while AFC-HCENESS was deducted 1.567 points during the evaluation of their technical proposals, according to the CIAA. AFC-HCENESS had scored 82.833—the highest point among the bidders—during the joint evaluation of technical and financial proposals, but the contract was instead awarded to SMEC-MWH-Uday which had 81.994 points.
Even the set criteria in the tender notice were not followed while conducting the evaluation, the CIAA pointed out. As per the tender notice, a bidder should have previous experience of conducting detailed engineering survey and design. But the detailed construction drawing was considered as detailed engineering survey and design in the case of SMEC-MWH-Uday, the anti-graft body said.