Nepal Army is investigating alleged corruption in Kathmandu-Tarai expresswayFormer Major General Yogendra Khand and his team are under probe.
Nepal Army is investigating alleged corruption in multi-billion rupees Kathmandu-Tarai expressway after complaints that procurement laws were breached while awarding the contracts.
A three-member team led by a major general is looking into the corruption allegation in the project that is being constructed under the leadership of the national defence force. Around Rs15 billion has been spent on the construction ever since the Army took charge to develop the project in August 2017.
The probe is primarily focused against former Major General Yogendra Khand, who led Directorate of Development and Construction Works before he retired in June. Brigadier General Sharad Lal Shrestha, who is the head of the project, is also under the scanner.
“Colonel Bikash Pokharel is leading the project after Shrestha has been temporarily relieved of his duty until the investigation is complete,” an Army official at the secretariat of the project told the Post on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to talk to the media.
Khand allegedly awarded the contracts worth millions of rupees without fulfilling the due bidding process for the personal benefit. Khand was not available for the comment as his mobile was switched off during several attempts to reach him.
The probe committee is expected to complete its investigation immediately after the Tihar. Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, the Army spokesperson, confirmed to the Post that an investigation is ongoing.
“The probe committee is investigating the alleged charges on different sitting and retired officials,” he told the Post. “As per commitment of the Chief of Army Staffs Purna Chandra Thapa, every official will be brought under the book if found guilty.”
Pandey said that along with military personnel, the probe will look into technical and non-technical civilians who are involved in the construction works.
Ever since taking charge of the national defence force, Thapa has vouched to take stern measures to curb corruption prevalent within the Army. The detail project report of the 72.5-kilometre roadway in Nepal has put its estimated cost of Rs175 billion including the VAT. It will cost a whopping Rs213 billion if contingency charge is incorporated.
The project has been dragged into controversy ever since the Army opened its track in 2007. There were reports about the corruption of millions of rupees as the Army claimed that Rs128.4 million was spent for the earth excavation where it used locals from Lalitpur and Makwanpur.
However, in reality, it used the excavator for the works which cost lesser than it had claimed. The office of the Auditor-General then had found the irregularities in the excavation. Major General Naresh Bashnyat was chief of the directorate then.
Pandey said he was unaware that if the investigation covers the alleged irregularities when the tracks were opened. First conceptualised in the mid-1990s, the expressway project is expected to reduce the travel time from Capital to Nijgadh to an hour. It is expected to come into an operation by early 2024.
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