Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and CPN Maoist Chairman Prachanda are among the leaders misusing government and private vehicles. It seems these leaders have forgotten how democracy was defamed by their corrupt and unlawful acts in the 90s. This is high time they remembered the result created by those acts. Thanks to the press freedom guaranteed by democracy in today’s Nepal, we the people at least know what’s happening around. Here is a report published in today’s Kantipur and translated into English by eKantipur. Sketch by Dewen via Kantipur
By Balram Baniya and Bikash Thapa
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and CPN-M Chairman Prachanda are among top politicians using government and private vehicles they are not authorized to use to. Top leaders of other political parties and other highly-placed government officials, too, have been making unauthorized use of government vehicles. Sources have disclosed that top officials of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) and other government departments running multiple projects, expecting favour in return from the leaders, encourage them to misuse government and project vehicles. According to sources, soon after Koirala became the prime minister after the success of the April Movement, NEA officials gave him a luxurious Prado with registration number 1602.
It’s not only the NEA vehicle, the PM has also taken a vehicle from the Melamchi Drinking Water Project. The number plate of the Melamchi vehicle has been switched to make it look a private vehicle with registration number Ba 4 Cha 6661. The home ministry has reportedly given permission for the switching of the registration number. Two government vehicles are already available to Koirala in the capacity of the prime minister, besides a tax-exempt Pajero which he got in 2053 BS as an MP. The prime minister has also taken another vehicle from the Melamchi project.
The concerned sides have no idea if the prime minister’s family members or leaders/cadres of his party, the Nepali Congress, are currently using these vehicles, which have been taken “for the use of the prime minister.” It has also been revealed that the prime minister also has a vehicle “gifted” to him by former chairman of the Nepal Cottage and Small Industries Development Bank, Sitaram Prasain, who is wanted by police.
It is noteworthy here that Prasain, whom the Nepal Rastra Bank, the country’s central bank, has accused of embezzling millions of public money, was not arrested though he attended Korean Air’s inaugural flight function at the Tribhuvan International Airport on November 13. Likewise, Chairman of Rastriya Janshakti Party Surya Bahadur Thapa, too, has been using a Landcruiser belonging to the Melamchi project for the last three years. He has illegally changed the vehicle’s number plate from government (Ba 1 Jha 6607) to private (Ba 4 Cha 8875).
Minister for Physical Planning and Works and NC-D vice-chairman Gopalman Shrestha, too, has taken two new vehicles (Ba 1 Jha 5766 and 6604) from the Melamchi project. He has already been provided with a government vehicle in the capacity of a minister. It’s not only leaders and ministers who have been misusing Melamchi vehicles. The Singh Durbar Ward Police Office has not returned a pick-up vehicle belonging to the project despite being reminded to do so many times.
NC-D President and former prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, too, has taken a Pajero from the NEA (registration no. Ba 1 Jha 8414), soon after the establishment of Loktantra. He has changed the vehicle’s number plate so as to make it look like a private vehicle. Deuba currently doesn’t hold any government position. But his party’s central member Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, who is the Minister of State for Water Resources, has provided him with the NEA vehicle. The NEA bears all expenses of the vehicle, including fuel, repair and maintenance. Deuba also has a Pajero which he received in the capacity of an MP.
State Minister Karki has also taken an NEA vehicle (a Prado with registration no 4449) for his own use though he has already got a vehicle from the ministry. Secretary at the Ministry of Water Resources, Tika Dutta Niraula, too, has been misusing an NEA vehicle (registration number 1512) meant for the Mid-Marshyangdi Hydel Project. He, too, gets a vehicle from the ministry.
UML General Secretary Madhav Kumar Nepal has been using a vehicle gifted to the Manmohan Smriti Pratisthan by owner of Shri Distillary Mathura Prasad Maskey for the past five years. Nepal is the patron of the Pratisthan. Maskey is wanted by the Internal Revenue Department “for evading taxes worth a billion rupees.”
Maoist leaders Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai have been using a vehicle forcefully seized from a businessman named Raju Shrestha. Both Prachanda and Bhattarai use the vehicle by switching the registration number plate. The Maoists has looted the vehicle from Shrestha after thrashing and torturing him sometime ago.
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, the constitutional body responsible for checking such misuse, is itself misusing an NEA vehicle by switching the number plate. Nepal Police is yet to return two NEA vehicles (registration no. 1238 and 1265) which it took during the direct royal rule. The NEA has no idea as to who is using 19 of its total 779 vehicles.
Deputy Prime Minister KP Oli, Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Hridayesh Tripathi have been using government vehicles though all of them have a Pajero each which they got in the capacity of an MP.
Former minister and NC leader Ram Chandra Paudel’s driver gets his salary from the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) Office. Paudel’s driver is a KMC employee. Though Paudel, as the coordinator of the Peace Committee, uses another government vehicle, his driver is still the same.