Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has called allegations of sharing of bribe in the Budhigandaki Hydropower Project by Janata Samajwadi Party leader Baburam Bhatatrai irresponsible.
"I have heard of an irresponsible comment that former PMs and the current PM have shared some billions from a project whose decision has not been taken, where work has not started and it is still not cleat whether it will be developed or not or by whom," PM Oli stated addressing the 65th anniversary of the Nepal Police on Friday. "Such irresponsible and baseless comments are one thing. We cannot be so irresponsible and unaccountable."
He reiterated his claims that the government has adopted the policy of zero tolerance against corruption. "We cannot lead the country to the wrong path by misleading the country and the people with wrong information. We cannot commit such acts. We can move forward only with a sense of truth, integrity and responsibility," he added.
Former prime minister (PM) Bhattarai had alleged that Oli, CPN Chairman Dahal and Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba shared a bribe of Rs 9 billion among them in the project while addressing a program in Gorkha a few days back.
NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma immediately issued a statement challenging Bhattarai to prove his allegation. CPN has followed suit issuing a statement on Wednesday challenging Bhattarai to make the evidence public and provide it to the state authorities concerned.
Bhattarai, on his part, has been demanding a high level probe committee to investigate the facts about the project.
The government has awarded the contract for development of the project to China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC), which has a dodgy record in Nepal and is blacklisted in other countries, without free competition.
The Oli government in September 2018 decided to award the 1200 MW project to the Chinese company which had applied for the project with the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM).
The then Pushpa Kamal Dahal government on May 23, 2017, when Janardan Sharma was energy minister, had decided to award the project to CGGC under the engineering, procurement, construction and finance (EPCF) model without a bidding process. The decision to award the project to the Chinese company with a dodgy record in Nepal and blacklisted in other countries was widely condemned.
The subsequent Sher Bahadur Deuba government on November 13, 2017 had revoked the decision to award the contract to CGGC. It then decided to award the project to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA). It had formed a committee under National Planning Commission (NPC) Vice Chairman Swarnim Wagle and including finance and energy secretaries, and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor and managing director of NEA to study about investment arrangements.
The subsequent Oli government then gave back the project to the Chinese company. Bhattarai alleges that the three top leaders shared bribe while awarding the project.