A meeting of Board of Directors (BoD) of Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) held on Sunday lifted suspension imposed on 16 petroleum dealers for their involvement in petroleum theft in Bhairahawa on April 29. It has also revoked the decision to suspend permit of 86 fuel tankers involved in the heft.
The dealers were charged with theft of as much as 17,000 liters of diesel.
It has been learnt that the NOC board took the decision buckling under pressure from Minister of State for Commerce and Supplies (MoCS) Giri Bahadur KC. Earlier, the board had suspended petroleum tankers and the dealers for three months. But their suspension has been lifted in mere 40 days.
“We had no option but to lift the suspension as we were under immense pressure from our line ministry,” Chandika Prasad Bhatta, managing director of NOC, told Republica.
Bhatta said the board meeting was held in the ministry as he was against lifting the suspension imposed on the wrongdoers.
The decision also bypasses the instruction given by Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) — the anti-graft body.
CIAA had directed NOC and MoCS to take strong action against the wrongdoers.
When Republica reached MoCS officials for comment, they tried to escape saying that they were yet to receive the decision taken by the NOC board.“”We have asked NOC to forward us the decision taken by Sunday´s meeting,” Deepak Subedi, spokesperson of MoCS, told Republica. “I cannot talk further on the issue as I couldn´t attend the board meeting,” Subedi, who is also the board member of NOC, said.
Meanwhile, Sridhar Sapkota, spokesperson of CIAA, said the anti-graft body would study on what grounds the suspension was lifted before coming up with a concrete decision.
´INTERFERENCE FROM MINISTRY DISCOURAGING´
Bhatta has termed the interference from ministry as discouraging. “It would relay negative message about NOC,” Bhatta said, “There is no point staying in the post, if ministry continues to interfere in our day to day works.”