Corruption alleged in Nepal PM’s cleanliness drive -By Yubaraj Ghimire
There has been rising discontent in Nepal over alleged corruption in projects authorised by the Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. The latest allegation concerns Bhattarai’s National Volunteer Campaign-2068 — a week-long drive to clean Kathmandu. Bhattarai inaugurated the initiative by cleaning garbage himself in front of the Singha Durbar, the main secretariat, where he was joined by a battery of government secretaries, army and police personnel on Friday.
However, four days after the campaign was launched, media reports and sources at the Kathmandu municipality suggested that there had been misuse of funds. “We could not refuse the project even though we knew it was another whimsical decision by the prime minister,” a government secretary said on condition of anonymity.
Arbitrary purchases have been made and inflated bills submitted to the government as “necessities” for the campaign, sources said. Against an estimated budget of Rs 20 million, the Kathmandu municipality went on a purchasing spree, buying brooms, shovels, masks and gloves at least 300 per cent above the normal rate. By Monday, sources allege that a least 30,000 each of gloves, masks as well as brooms were purchased. Against the normal rate of Rs 5 for each glove, the municipality paid about Rs 30 and Rs 12 for each mask that normally costs Rs 3.
Besides allegations of fund misuse, army, police and even government personnel roped into the drive have protested their involvement in a campaign that goes beyond assigned duties. “We are being coerced to do a job that is not part of our duty,” a police personnel said, requesting anonymity. (Indian Express.)