KATHMANDU, July 27: The Ministry of Education (MoE) has formed a panel to probe irregularities at Sajha Prakashan.
Sajha Prakashan, the state-owned publishing house which first came into existence 105 years ago, is well known for its literary publications. However, it has fallen into a sorry state over the last decade due to irregularities taking place under political protection.
A ministry-level meeting held on Thursday decided to form a three-member panel to look into irregularities rampant at Sajha, according to MoE. “We have formed a three-member committee to study the matter,” said Shanta Bahadur Shrestha, secretary at MoE.
The committee headed by Ganesh Dhakal, undersecretary at MoE's Monitoring and Evaluation Division, includes Ramesh Sigdel, undersecretary at the Law Section and Bhola Paudel, accounts officer.
The committee has been given authority to probe the irregularities.
Dolendra Prasad Sharma, chairman and general manager of Sajha Prakashan, has been accused of appointing those close to politicians and media persons to positions at Sajha, failing to maintaim records of annual incomes and book publications, and transferring Rs 5 million from Sajha to the GM's account, among other thiings.
GM Sharma has reportedly been pocketing millions every year, printing books outside the publishing house but under the Sajha logo.
Sajha Prakashan publishes the textbooks Sabaiko Nepali, Link English and Ek Chihan for Grades XI and XII compulsory subjects. The number of students in Grade XI is increasing every year. But the official record of books published by Sajha Prakashan has been decreasing after Sharma was appointed GM.
According to the trade unions at Sajha Prakashan, Sajha published 145,000 book copies in 2014; 50,000 in 2015; 50,000 in 2016 and 63,000 in 2017.
The student numbers in Grade XI were 366,943 in 2014; 370,661 in 2015; 374,398 in 2016 and 448,926 in 2017, according to the National Examination Board (NEB) .
Then education minister Chitra Lekha Yadav appointed Sharma as general manager of Sajha in 2015. He was given the responsibility of chairperson as well a month later.
Sharma's tenure ended in January 2017. but the same month he was reappointed as chairman and GM for four years. Dhani Ram Paudel of the CPN (Maoist Center) was education minister at the time.