Rs 535 million at stake as cooperative runs into trouble in Pokhara

Bijay Nepal 18 Apr 2023
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Rs 535 million at stake as cooperative runs into trouble in Pokhara

POKHARA: Pradeep Bohora from Mahendranagar, who runs a pharmacy in Lakeside, has been frequenting the premises of Shiva Shikhar Multipurpose Cooperatives in Parsyang of Pokhara-5 for the past few months as the institution is facing financial troubles. Bohora had deposited Rs 500,000 in the cooperative and has withdrawn Rs 400,000 so far, but is uncertain whether he will be able to retrieve the remaining Rs 100,000. Sangita Pokharel, who had been depositing Rs 100 daily, now fears the loss of her total savings of Rs 30,000, as the cooperative has failed to return her deposit. The situation has left many members anxious and uncertain about the safety of their investments.

Bohora and Pokharel are not the only ones worried about their deposits. Bhim Bahadur Rana Magar and his mother have deposited Rs 400,000, while Kumari Lama of Biratua has invested Rs 500,000. In total, over 7,200 depositors are facing the risk of losing their hard-earned money, as the cooperative has been unable to return deposits totaling nearly Rs 535 million. One depositor has as much as Rs 15 million at stake.

Shiva Shikhar Cooperative, headquartered in Kaushaltar of Bhaktapur, operates 36 branch offices across the country, including two in Pokhara. The cooperative opened its first branch office in Parsyang two and a half years ago, followed by a second branch in Chauthe in Pokhara-14 in June last year. While the Parsyang branch has around 5,500 depositors, the Chauthe branch has over 1,700 depositors.

The cooperative issued a notice on February 10, stating that it was closing operations for a few days due to problems in arranging funds as many depositors and shareholders came to withdraw their money all at once. However, the cooperative has not resumed operations even though it has nearly been three months since it pasted the notice. Depositors have been left in a state of uncertainty, with many visiting the office every day hoping to retrieve their hard-earned savings. However, the staff has no information on when the cooperative will resume operations. Meanwhile, the Garden Departmental Store, which is also run by the cooperative in the same building in Parsyang, continues to operate normally.

Ramesh Neupane, manager of the cooperative, informed that the cooperative has mobilized Rs 535 million in deposits across its two branches. However, due to liquidity problems, the cooperative has been unable to return depositors’ money, he added.¬†“It is natural for depositors to be angry as it has already been three months since we halted operations. The promoters tell us that they were trying to fix the situation,” Neupane said. He, however, added that the promoters have not been in touch with him.

Even the cooperative’s staff members have not received their salaries, said Neupane.

Frustrated with the delay in returning their money, depositors are now preparing to form a struggle committee to put pressure on the cooperative’s promoters. “The depositors are holding a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the matter,” he added.

Shiva Shikhar is not the only cooperative facing financial difficulties. Due to a lack of liquidity, many other cooperatives are struggling to keep their doors open. For example, Kisan Cooperatives, promoted by Dr Dhaka Kumar Shrestha, who was recently sacked from Rastriya Swatantra Party, closed its operations in November last year. The cooperative’s depositors have filed a complaint at the Pokhara Metropolitan City.

Published On: 18 Apr 2023

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