Sudurpaschim Province burdened with financial irregularities in the local unitsSeveral local units in the district have distributed budgets under the development heading to political cadres through consumers’ committees.
The locals immediately filed a complaint at the office of Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality, but the office did not pay heed to them; it instead allocated Rs 70 million to construct another wall on the northern side of Tundikhel through another consumers’ committee headed by the same person.
The municipality’s move to award more contracts to Malasi—who is the nephew of Dipayal Silgadhi Mayor Manju Malasi—did not sit well with the locals. The municipal office then formed another consumer committee and put Dinesh KC, another youth leader, at the helm of it. Through the new committee, the municipality in the fiscal year 2018-19 allocated Rs 3.5 million to construct a wall around the playground.
The move was largely criticised, so this fiscal year, the municipality has invited tenders to complete the fence wall at Rs 8 million.
“The wall’s construction does not require so much money. The municipality needs to stop misusing funds; it should not award contracts to political party activists. The formation of consumers’ committees is just for show,” said Bijaya Khadka, a local.
Several local units in the district have formed consumers’ committees to distribute budgets to party cadres under the development heading. As a result, such development projects have become a tool for misappropriation of funds, say locals. “There is no monitoring mechanism and the wrongdoers are emboldened by the protection they enjoy through political parties,” said Khadka.
In Sayal Rural Municipality, Rs 1.8 million was allocated to construct an office building for Ward No. 3 in the fiscal year 2017-18. The budget was also released through a consumers’ committee headed by Ram Bahadur Thapa, a local political leader. The locals blamed Ward Chairman Gorakh Sarki and Thapa of embezzling the budget while constructing the ward building. But that didn’t stop Thapa from receiving another contract through a consumers’ committee—in the fiscal year 2018-19, he was awarded a contract of Rs 4.5 million for the construction of the Melchauka-Dhanekhola road. The provincial government also released Rs 4 million for the same project. But the construction work is still incomplete, says sub-engineer Junga Bahadur Saud.
Meanwhile, chairman Sarki denies any wrongdoing.
“Thapa was chosen as the consumer committee chief by the local people. I did not pick him to head the committee,” he said.
The development budget arrears in Doti in the fiscal year 2017-18 amounted to Rs 137.5 million. The Office of the Auditor-General is yet to make public the arrears for the fiscal year 2018-19.
“The report will only be made public by mid-April,” said Malasi.
Doti is not the only district in the province burdened by corruption. The reports of financial irregularities in Sudurpaschim’s local units have been on the rise in recent years. Most of the development projects are headed by local political leaders with no result to show for the amount of money spent.
Top Bahadur Bista, the information officer at the Mahendranagar office of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, said the complaints of irregularities in the local bodies have been increasing in recent years.
“Complaints regarding double payments for the same project, formation of consumers’ committees under the chairmanship of party activists and substandard work have been increasing lately,” said Bista.
“As many as 389 complaints of irregularities in the local and provincial level projects were filed at the CIAA office in the fiscal year 2018-19 and the first six months 2019-20.”