The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has once again directed the government to take departmental action against Secretary Arjun Kumar Karki and four top officials of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) for dereliction of duty while procuring tents as immediate relief for earthquake victims, right after the April 25 earthquake.
Karki, who is currently at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transportation, was the secretary of the MoUD when the earthquake ravaged the country. In September last year, the CIAA had recommended to the government for departmental action against five top officials of the ministry, including secretary Karki, for dereliction of duty and engaging in financial irregularities while purchasing tents and tarpaulins for people rendered homeless by the April 25 earthquake.
The CIAA on Tuesday wrote to the MoUD to take departmental action against the then secretary of the ministry Arjun Kumar Karki, Joint Secretary Basudev Guragain, the then Procurement Committee chief, and Director General of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction under the ministry Shambhu KC as well as committee members Nilam Kumar Dangol and Narayan Niraula. The CIAA argued that the anti-graft body’s investigation found that the officials did not perform their duty responsibly while procuring tents and tarpaulins for the quake victims, resulting in financial irregularities of over Rs 23 million.
The CIAA has said that the accused officials, instead of hiring companies that supply tents, choose contractors that had been supplying stationeries and performing maintenance jobs to procure tents and tarpaulin worth Rs 110 millions, allowing them to charge excessively more than they would in a free market. The anti-graft body has also stated that the purchased tents and tarpaulins were also of sub-standard quality.
An investigation by the anti-graft body had earlier found that tents and tarpaulins purchased from Baniya Traders, Himshikhar Suppliers and Trades, SP Enterprises, Rocky Enterprises and Baba Enterprises were of sub-standard quality.
“But after the government did not take any action against the officers despite the CIAA’s recommendation, the commission on Tuesday decided to write once again to the ministry for action against them,” said Krishna Hari Puskar, spokesperson of the CIAA.
While the CIAA sought departmental action against the top officials, the anti-graft body filed cases at the Special Court against under secretaries Homnath Bhattarai and Ram Krishna Guragain and a non-gazetted officer Yuvaraj Giri for their involvement in corruption in the same case. The commission had asked the court to fine the officials as well as recoup the embezzled amount of Rs 23.6 million from them.
The CIAA had come under scrutiny for filing cases against lower-ranked officials and recommending departmental action against the top officials of the ministry.