Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Probe thefts of NA aircraft spare parts, PAC orders govt


KATHAMANDU, Nov 29: Members of parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday lambasted Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) top brass for their failure in safeguarding aircraft spare parts and ordered the government to seriously look into the cases of theft, suspecting possible involvement of senior NAC officials in the loss.

Lawmakers that grilled the NAC officials over recent cases of thefts of spare parts, something which has inflicted millions of rupees in loss to the national flag carrier, even urged the government to take action against persons involved in the theft under criminal law.

"The nature of thefts indicates that there might be direct involvement of senior NAC officials. The government must punish them severely," said lawmaker Lalbabu Pandit.

During a period of less than a year, NAC has reported loss of a fly-away kit and spare wheels of Boeing 757 and landing gears of Twin Otter. The cost of fly-away kit alone is estimated to be around Rs 45 million.

NAC board member Ranjan Krishna Aryal admitted that the equipment were lost because of irresponsibility of NAC officials. He even disclosed that the NAC staff had not cooperated with the investigation team that NAC board formed to dig out facts on thefts of spare parts.

"Internal investigations have not been fruitful because of lack of cooperation by staff themselves. Hence, there is a need to start fresh enquiry under criminal law," he added.

Given that the weight of missing spare parts was more than 150 kg, NAC´s investigation officer Mukunda Joshi said it was impossible for the outsider to steal those parts.

"Handling agency is required to load and unload such bulky equipment. Clearly, a group of people and agencies have been involved in such thefts," he added.

He also pushed for the formation of high-level committee to investigate into the cases.

PAC on the day had summoned tourism secretary Dr Ganesh Raj Joshi, NAC chairman Manarup Shahi, managing director KB Limbu and other officials to enquire about the missing spare parts.

Some of the lawmakers like Kamala Pant attributed the ongoing problem in NAC to the presence of two executive heads. "Until we resolve the controversy of who holds the executive power - chairman or the managing director, problems like these will continue in the corporation," Pant stated.

She also raised question against the NAC management for not punishing the wrongdoers identified by a probe team of MoTCA.

The investigation has shown the involvement of the then director of NAC engineering department A R Pahari along with other engineers R K Manandhar and Rajesh Shrestha in the loss of fly-away kit.

However, NAC Chairman Manarup Shahi did not take any action against them, arguing that the ministry´s probe report did not make clear recommendations on actions against them.

Initially, NAC had suspended Pahari, Manandhar and Shrestha, but allowed them to return to work soon after.

Published on 2011-11-29 23:28:05

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