Under pressure, school premises leased for commercial purposes
KATHMANDU, AUG 24 -
Despite strong objections from senior teachers and members of the School Management Committee (SMC), Madan Smarak School has decided to lease out a large portion of its land in Patan for commercial use.
A majority of the members in the nine-member committee, in the first week of March, decided to lease out 10.1 ropanis of school land to the Valley Construction Company under “political influence.” The SMC, led by former lawmaker and CPN-Maoist leader Raj Kaji Maharjan, took the decision to this effect.
The company was awarded a 44-year contract, which includes a four-year construction period. As per the contract, the company will pay Rs 35,000 per month during the construction period and Rs 4 million annually after the construction is complete. The lease amount will increase at a rate of 7.65 percent per annum.
However, senior teachers and SMC members said that the contract was not in favour of the school and the leasing process was not transparent. “We had suggested the committee not to lease more than six ropanis as there won’t be enough space for a playground and school expansion,” said a teacher.
The agreement allows the contractor to demolish a building where the primary block of the school is located, given that a similar amount of space will be handed back once construction is complete. “Students will be deprived of their place of study until the construction is completed,” the teacher said.
Though the SMC decided to lease the land to run a heath institution, there has been political pressure to amend the provision after the company was denied a hospital licence. “Now, it is more likely that the land will be used for commercial shutters,” said a SMC member, adding that as the Patan Bishal Bazaar, on the premises of the Patan Multiple Campus, has been a failure, it is certain that the upcoming project will go the same way. “That will ultimately affect the payment of the lease amount,” said the SMC member.
However, SMC Chairman Maharjan claimed that the entire process was transparent and there had not been any irregularity. The decision was taken for the benefit of the school, taking consent from the school management. “The contract was awarded through open competition,” said Maharjan.
Meanwhile, citing financial irregularities in the leasing process, a corruption complaint has been filed with the Commission for the Investigation of Authority (CIAA) claiming that the lease was awarded under political influence and that the SMC was manipulated into taking the decision.
The CIAA, in turn, has sought clarification and documents related to the leasing process from the District Education Office, Lalitpur. The office has only recently provided the details.
“We received the documents from the education officer and matter is under investigation,” said an investigating official at the CIAA.
Posted on: 2012-08-24 08:09