KATHMANDU, March 20: Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has sought clarification from Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) following complaints that officials were allegedly involved in curruption in the tender process of proposed Pokhara Regional International Airport.
Two different complaints filed on March 11 and March 19 stated that tender was called with the intention to award it to China CAMC Engineering Company.
Quoting a complaint filed on Tuesday, CIAA Secretary Bhagwati Kafle said, "The complaint has asked us to probe the issue and has stated that the duration of tender of 46 days was not enough and bidders were not given bid document."
CAAN had invited Engineering Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract for execution of the project on February 9. According to the tender documents, the bidder must be a Chinese company or joint venture of the Chinese companies or joint venture of the Chinese and Nepalese companies with more than 50 percent share of Chinese company.
The government of Nepal is in the process of receiving soft loan to finance the project from Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) for soft loan of around $ 145 million.
A study carried out by Joshi Consultancy estimated the cost of the project at around $ 166 million. "China CAMC Company limited has redesigned the technical and financial proposal estimating the cost to be around $ 287 million which confirms the corruption of concerned officials as the amount is too high against the estimated cost of local consultancy," the complaint added.
The complaint has also charged officials of finance ministry and tourism ministry for illegally signing MoU with China CAMC Company limited for the implementation of the project in December 2010, and the current tender invitation was an attempt to make the old MoU legal by awarding the tender
CAAN officials however said that they had no idea about the MoU with China CAMC Company and there were no irregularities involved in the process. Suman Shrestha, deputy director general of CAAN said 46-day period was per the existing regulation and 10 companies had already taken the bid document. The final date for the submission of tender is March 25 and companies including Avic International, Sino-Hyrdo, China Railway Airport Construction and China Harbor.
The airport which is targeted to be completed within three years from the day of execution of project will be able to handle aircraft as big as Boeing 757. In 1975, the government had expropriated 3,106 ropanies of land for the construction of the airport at Chhinedada in Pokhara. The airport will have 2,500 meter long runway.
Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is also preparing to summon officials of CAAN and MoTCA on Wednesday seeking details of the tender invitation.