PM must answer on RIL, Reddy: BJP

Last Updated: Wed, Oct 31, 2012 15:42 hrs

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IBNS) Responding to a media "expose" by India Against Corruption (IAC) leader Arvind Kejriwal on natural gas use and Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)'s domination, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said the Prime Minister must answer on the questions raised.

"These facts were existing and this facts needs to be addressed. The people of this country deserve an answer to this query. All these should be brought in public domain by the government," said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Ruddy.

"The PM should explain why it all happened," he said, adding that BJP senior leader Jaswant Singh too has issued a press release on the issue questioning removal of Jaipal Reddy from the Petroleum and Natural Gas ministry.

Singh in his press release said it is truly worrisome "why has the minister in the ministry of Petroleum and natural gas been changed?"

"Is it any malfunction in the ministry that has persuaded Dr. Manmohan Singh to effect this change? Or is it that Shri Jaipal Reddy was not found as a 'convenient minister', or is this yet another example of Corporate interests taking precedence over national good?" asked Singh.

Singh said RIL's commitment, as per the Field Development Plan was to produce some 80 Million Metric Standard Cubic Meter Per Day (mmscmd).

"This was brought down to about 28 mmscmd, and it is reported that the committed numbers of wells were also not dug. This huge shortfall in the output was due to the shortfall in the number of wells that should have been dug. Upon the service of a notice disallowing the cost recovery of shortfall in production, the matter went to arbitration," he said.

Singh said the central questions that arise are "ought the amount of cost recovery due to shortfall in production in 2011-12 be permitted?" and as per reports, if the production has further declined in the current year, then, will the government demand that of additional penalty of around $1 billion be imposed on the RIL, taking the logic that was applied for the year 2011-12 by Shri Jaipal Reddy?

He said: "RIL wanted to increase the price per mmbtu by $10. Would this result in virtually a threefold increase in profits to the company (some say Rs.65,000 crores or so,) and thus corresponding loss to the country. Is it this that has resulted in the minister being shifted?"

"Why is the company resisting comprehensive audit by the CAG and is the government now going to dilute the earlier stand that CAG audit is not required?" he asked.

He said there are only some of the questions that arise, at present, about this scandalous episode.

"That is why this change cannot be treated as effected either for greater efficiency of the ministry, or for the welfare of the citizens of India or for national good. In any event, the Supreme Court of India having given full authority to the government to fix gas pricing in "national interest", why did the government not act? Which is why the PM must explain, he has a duty to, and we have a right to know," said Singh.

IAC on Wednesday made a scathing attack on both the Congress and also tagged the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by "exposing" what it called the pandering of the governments led by both parties before corporates like Mukesh Ambani´s RIL which "dictated terms" in distribution and pricing of resources like natural gas.

IAC said Mukesh Ambani was forcing the UPA government to hike gas prices while honest Congress ministers like Mani Shankar Aiyar and S Jaipal Reddy of Congress were shifted out of the petroleum and natural gas ministries because they had stood up to Reliance pressures.

"Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has the contract [during BJP led NDA regime the contract was first granted to Reliance in 2002] to extract oil from KG Basin. Under an agreement of 2009 with the UPA government, they are supposed to sell gas at $ 4.2 per mm BTU upto 31st March 2014. Midway now, RIL is demanding that the price be increased to $ 14.2 per mm BTU. Jaipal Reddy resisted that and he was thrown out," said Kejriwal.

Kejriwal said BJP too is in the pocket of Ambani since in 2002, KG basin contract was given in a faulty way to Reliance by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

"As if Mukesh Ambani is running this country and not Manmohan Singh," said activist turned politician Arvind Kejriwal.

The CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) had demanded an audit into Reliance activities in KG basin but the government did not allow it, he claimed.

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