Gas pricing: Reliance Industries 'favoured' by UPA, BJP keeping mum, says FIR

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 14 2014, 23:25pm hrs
Gas pricingThe FIR of the ACB placed before a Delhi court naming Veerappa Moily, Mukesh Ambani and others on gas pricing issue. Reuters
The FIR of the Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) placed before a Delhi court naming Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily, Mukesh Ambani and others on gas pricing issue alleged that the Congress-led UPA government "favoured" Reliance Industries Ltd with an eye on 2014 general elections and BJP is maintaining "silence" hoping to gain corporate funding for the polls.

"The fact that this decision (to raise gas price) was taken in advance by the present government shows that it wanted to favour RIL for corrupt considerations which would then help with the expenditure for the upcoming national elections.

"This is also the reason why the main opposition party, the BJP, is silent on the issue as during election time, when huge slush of funds is required by the major parties, no one is willing to speak against this decision even though price rise is normally an important political issue," the FIR said.

The five-page FIR with which annexures have been attached was lodged by the ACB of Delhi Government on a complaint sent to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal by former Cabinet Secretary T S R Subramanian, former Secretary E A S Sarma, former Navy Chief Admiral R H Tahiliani and advocate Kamini Jaiswal.

Besides Moily and RIL chairperson Ambani, former Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, ex-Director General of Hydrocarbons V K Sibal and other unknown persons have been named as accused in the case.

The FIR was lodged under sections 420 (cheating), 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the IPC and under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The complaint, on the basis of which the FIR was lodged, alleged that impact of gas price rise would cost the country a minimum of Rs 54,500 crore per year at current dollar price.

However, Moily today said the government will not go back on its decision to hike rates from April 1 and came down heavily against Kejriwal for ordering an "unconstitutional" FIR against him and others for raising gas prices.

RIL too had termed the ordering of FIR against it as shocking and described the complaints that were used to base the action as baseless and devoid of merit or substance.

"A contract dated April 12, 2000 was entered into between the Union of India and RIL and Niko Resources Ltd called a production sharing contract (PSC) for the exploration for natural gas and in case of any commercial discoveries, the development and the production of natural gas in the contract area identified as block KG D6," it said.

In the complaint, they alleged RIL had signed a contract with NTPC in 2004 to supply gas for its power plants at 2.34 dollar per mmbtu for a period of 17 years and it also signed an agreement with RNRL of ADA Group to supply the gas at the same price for 17 years.

"However, RIL went back on its word and refused to supply the gas at that rate which was clearly profitable for RIL," it said.

"Under RIL's pressure, the government, with Murli Deora as minister, revised gas price in 2007 to $ 4.2/mmbtu which was clearly malafide and an act of corruption," it alleged.

It also said the Supreme Court in 2010 held that price fixed by the government would be binding on all the parties.

The complaint also said that cost of production of gas is much less than 2.34 dollar per mmbtu and also referred to a May 22, 2009 letter written by RIL to DG Hydrocarbons giving its cost calculations which shows that "the cost of production is less than 1$ per mmbtu."

"This shows that the demand for an increase in gas price is only an indication of RIL's greed and its malafide designs. Also BP (British Petroleum) must have seen high returns from a known discovery at the current price of $ 4.2/mmbtu and thus, it invested about Rs 33,000 crore for 30 per cent stake in RIL's KG basin block," the complaint said.