By Our Reporter
Corrupt ministers in the present jumbo-cabinet resort to any immoral and illegal activities to relieve the honest and competent boss of the government entities was once again exposed when Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Jitendra Dev sought clarification from Sanjeev Gautam, director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN).
According to news reports, Minister Dev wanted to remove Gautam when the latter rejected to buy the land of Ang Chhiring Sherpa to expand the airport of Dharan.
Sherpa had bought the land some 15 years ago at a very cheap cost. Now Sherpa is exerting pressure on Deputy Prime Minister Bijaya Gachhadar and other leaders of the ruling parties to buy his land for the airport.
Even DPM Gachhadar’s son had a share for half of the land.
As there is no need for any land to expand the Dharan airport, Gautam rejected the pressure. Likewise, Gautam rejected to provide a share of the rent the TIA collects from its shutters to Minister Dev. When Minister Dev’s plan to spend Rs 3 billion unnecessarily to buy the land failed, he is now trying to remove Gautam seeking clarifications.
Gautam presented a 1600-page clarification.
Removal of Gautam will be a setback in the upgrading of the TIA as he had decided to terminate the contract of Constructora San Jose S.A. a Spanish Company for its unsatisfactory performance in the upgrading of the TIA. Gautam’s removal will be a relief for the company.
CAAN had earlier won the case brought by the Spanish company, Constructora San Jose S.A., at Kathmandu District Court, a high court and at a court in Spain. Also, a Singapore-based arbitrator had accepted CAAN’s claim that the arbitrator could not take up the case.
Unsatisfied with the work of the Spanish contractor, CAAN had terminated the contract with the contractor and it had also seized the performance guarantee and advance payment. The contractor had deposited Rs 578 million as performance guarantee and Rs 1.08 billion as advance payment. These sums have already been transferred to CAAN’s bank account.
After the termination of the contract, the Spanish company had demanded Rs 2.17 billion in compensation from CAAN whereas CAAN paid only Rs 90 million to the company.
However, the latest move by Minister Dev showing weakness on the part of Gautam is likely to benefit the Spanish contractor.
Sources at the ministry said that the minister’s seeking clarifications from the director general is creating ground that may compel the Nepal government to lose around Rs 6 billion in payment of compensation to the contractor and seizure of the deposits for performance guarantee and advance payment.
Informed sources said that Minister Dev sought clarifications from Gautam on Wednesday in coordination with the ministry’s joint secretary Suresh Acharya and in collusion with some businesspersons with a plan to remove Gautam from his post.
The sources said Acharya has been supporting the minister to remove Gautam as the former wants to bag the post of managing director for himself while the businesspersons in question want to remove Gautam from the key post as he has been rejecting various proposals from power brokers and some bureaucrats.
Though some groups filed a complaint at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against Gautam, he was given a clean chit a year ago as the anti-graft body didn’t find any wrongdoing on his part.
Officials at the ministry said the minister’s attempt to remove Gautam from his post may sabotage Gautam’s several initiatives to improve the country’s aviation sector. Gautam’s years-long initiatives have just started yielding positive results. Recently ICAO had removed Nepal from its ‘significant safety concern list’, while the European Union’s recent study team has also given some positive hints with regard to allowing Nepal Airlines to fly in the European skies, reported The Republica.
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By Our Reporter