KATHMANDU, Aug 26: The Department of Tourism has sought clarification with 15 liaison officers who failed to report to Everest base camp during the climbing season.
On August 18, the Ministry of Tourism had directed the Board to take necessary action against those officers who did not reach the Everest.
The Department has asked the absent officers to produce clarification with proof within 15 days, Department Director Meera Acharya told Onlinekhabar adding, “If they fail to present satisfactory details within the given deadline, they will be taken strict action against”.
According to the Department, of the 37 officers deployed, only 22 had reached the Everest base camp but failed to explain why they had not reported to duty.
The department’s statement came after the BBC–while interviewing Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli–claimed only five of the 60 liaison officers deployed at the base camp were on the duty.
PM Oli struggled to answer when BBC journalist Matthew Amroliwala asked him: “Did that revelation disturb you?”
The BBC revelation about the anomalies in Nepal’s mountaineering sector also clouded Nepal’s biggest push to commercialize the world highest peak. This year the Government of Nepal issued permits to record 381 climbers to scale the Mount Everest in a bid to make the 2019 season one of the busiest climbing season ever.
This year was also termed as one of the deadliest and busiest climbing seasons with 11 deaths reported on Everest—which also brought the way the authorities manage Everest under massive scrutiny. Many national and international media blamed the traffic jam on the way to the world’s tallest peak for the deaths.
However, the Sherpas who were on Everest for the entire season claimed that only a few liaison officers were on duty while others returned home after two or three days.
The Department then formed a probe panel to investigate whether the liaison officers produced the reports with reaching the assigned venues.
According to an investigation by Republica, 13 liaison officers basically stayed home and pocketed the money.
“Tourism Ministry’s section officers Lekh Paneru, Bina Shrestha, Santosh Moktan, Humnath Pandey, Laxmi Sharma, Gopal Bhandari and Bishwa Bandhu Regmi produced reports without reaching the base camp and received full payment for the assignments; while section officer at the Home Ministry Punya Prasad Dhakal, CIAA’s Tirtharaj Chapagain and Kamal Prasad Mishra, Tourism Ministry’s legal officer Chandra Prasad Adhikari, President’s Office undersecretary Prahlad Pudasaini and Rajendra Kumar Shrestha of Solukhumbu pocketed allowances without even reaching the base camp, the Daily said.
Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Yogesh Bhattarai has already expressed commitment to disqualify such corrupt officers.
Meanwhile, the government has recommended a new policy related to deploying liaison officers on the mountains including Everest. As per the new policy, the liaison officers will be deployed in a group which comprises of a vice-secretary, doctor, officers from Nepal Army, Armed Police Force, Nepal Police, computer operator and helpers.