News Column

Years of oil robbery finally disclosed

June 4, 2014

Our Reporter

The Nepal Oil Corporation, the sole authorized distributor of petroleum products in the nation had been taking loans from various funds. The NOC monopoly is facing a loss of Rs. 30 billion even though petroleum product is one of the most consumed products in the nation. Now the scale of corruption in NOC is all almost clear. The Corporation’s corrupt, thief like officials and employees and its mafia-like tanker entrepreneurs are to be blamed for the debacle faced by the Corporation and the nation. Police has rounded up NOC employees including 27 individuals and 19 tanks for stealing oil and started investigation indicating the scale of corruption in NOC. Not only this, there have been complaints that NOC officials of high positions are trying to save the employees caught up in the mess. After police found out the direct involvement of tank entrepreneurs in the robbery the Federation of Supply Tanker Entrepreneurs tried their best to hide their sordid deed. They even stopped the supply of petroleum products demanding that the police withdraw the cases. Then the Rupendehi residents took to streets which forced the tanker entrepreneurs to back down. During interrogation police found out that NOC officials’ were involved in the robbery. The police went on to arrest two employees of the regional office Devendra Basnet and Rabindra Kumar Raut and on basis of their testimony arrested Mid-western Regional chief of NOC Nagendra Kurmi. Kurmi is reported to have told the police during interrogation that he operated as the Belbari Depot operated. All the three NOC employees have accepted their guilt in the crime. Rupendehi’s Superintendent of Police Bikram Singh Thapa has said that he would rather resign from his post than come under pressure from anyone to relax his hold on the ongoing investigation. He has pledged to find those accused of stealing oil even if there are hiding beneath the water.

The investigation has revealed that around 60 liters of petroleum product is stolen from chambers of every tanker. When the entrepreneurs steal 60 liters from every five chambers of a tanker it would amount to the robbery of 300 liters of diesel or any petroleum product every day, which amounts to Rs. 31,200 every day. From India’s Baitalpur via Belahiya border point 35 tankers enter Nepal daily. This in total amounts to embezzlement of Rs. 1.92 million when the entrepreneurs steal 300 liters each from all 35 tankers.

This means that 315,000 liters of petrol is stolen every month which amounts to Rs. 32.7 million. This in a year totals to Rs. 3 billion 930.1 million. This is the record of only the petroleum products brought by the NOC or the government. It has also been revealed that entrepreneurs bring more oil than what has been specified.

A serious question has risen over how much money has been embezzled in this robbery that has gone on undetected for years. The tankers under the control of police are reported to have more petroleum product than what NOC had officially imported.

The police is still searching for oil entrepreneurs accused of involvement in this robbery. Among them are three main master mind of this robbery Binod Upreti of Padasai -1 known as diesel mafia, Ram Chandra Adhikary and Bikash Chettri of Madhawaliya-3 known as Bikki. Others who are absconding include former Minister Dan Bahadur Chaudhary’s son Lappu Chaudhry and Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s member of executive committee Chop Narayan Shrestha. Many others not disclosed here are still absconding while Mid Western Tanker Entrepreneurs Association’s recent chairman Hari Bahadur Kunwar has been apprehended.

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Source: People's Review (Nepal)

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