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TIA Runway & Helipad Scam: CIAA probe reaching nowhere


The investigation launched by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) into alleged irregularities concerning the construction of a helipad and overlaying runways at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) has not reached its conclusion.  

It has been a year since the probe was carried out but officials at the anti-graft body claim that the process is still underway. All investigation officers assigned to look into the matter have now either retired from government service or have been transferred. The officials said that they had almost finalised the investigation before they left office, however, newly appointed CIAA acting chief Ganesh Raj Joshi claimed that the probe has yet to be completed.

Three separate CIAA teams, headed by DIG Ramesh Shekhar Bajracharya, Joint-attorney General Dilli Raman Acharya and Joint-Secretary Ishwori Paudyal, were assigned to investigate the case. Acharya has retired from government service while Bajracharya and Paudyal were transferred to the Western Regional Police Office and the Department of Water Supply and Sewerage, respectively.  

Eleven months ago, the investigation officers had informed the Post that the investigation was almost completed. Before Acharya’s retirement in January, CIAA officials had also stated that interrogations of accused government officials and project contractors were almost complete based on lab reports. However, the officials left office without producing any reports.  

“The investigation has not yet been finalised. We are still looking into the matter,” said Joshi. Immediately after the lab report was submitted to the CIAA by the Central Road Laboratory, findings revealed the involvement of government officials and contractors on both projects. The lab report claimed that shoddy construction had led to the collapse of the newly-built helipad and runway overlay.

Despite commitments from officials, a year has elapsed without any action being taken. When questioned over why the anti-graft body had not fulfilled its commitments, Paudyal passed the buck to current DIG Birendra Bahadur Shrestha, who replaced Bajracharya.  In the first week of July, the now-defunct parliamentary body, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), had asked the CIAA to probe irregularities and punish those involved after the newly-built helipad at the TIA crumbled only four months after its construction and the 3,048m runway overlay caved in. The helipad cost Rs 27 million, while the runway was overlaid for Rs 240 million.  

PAC members made a field inspection at the time and conducted a study reporting on technical and design defects. Their report stated that the helipad had been built for a temporary period, so its surface did not have the required thickness as per international norms. According to the report, the helipad had been blacktopped, instead of concrete being used.

The runway overlay was a joint venture between the China Railway Engineering Corp and the Nepali Tundi Construction while GEOC, a Nepali company, was a consultant.

Posted on: 2012-12-05 08:38