Now, Amar Singh makes entry into RIL-NTPC gas row

Written by Economy Bureau | New Delhi, Aug 28 | Updated: Aug 30 2008, 04:28am hrs
Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh has once again taken up the baton against Mukesh Ambanis Reliance Industries Ltdthis time on RILs litigation with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) over their gas supply contract inked in 2004.

Singh has written to Lok Sabha MP and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Undertakings, Rupchand Pal, seeking that the panel examine the NTPC-RIL deal closely. He has also sought examining of a possible complicity between RIL, NTPC and officials of the ministries of power and petroleum.

After RIL indicated that it is not keen on meeting its contractual obligations to NTPC, the power sector PSU had filed a petition in the Bombay High Court in December 2005. While the court is still hearing the case, Singh has alleged that no follow up was done by NTPC in the courts and its general attitude today is to let matters lie where they are.

Singh, whose party lent vital support to the UPA government in last months trust over the Indo-US nuclear deal, is of the view that a section of the governmentthe ministry of petroleum and the ministry of powerare trying to help RIL instead of their own PSU in the court case.

Petroleum ministry, power ministry, NTPC and the government appointed counsel TS Doabia are working full time only to further the interests of Mukesh Ambani at the cost of the countrys critically placed power sector, Singh has alleged in his letter.

The SP leader in his letter has requested the parliamentary panel to question the ministry and NTPC officials as to why they did not actively pursue the case over the past three years. The panel may also examine a possible conflict of interest faced by Maharashtra advocate general Ravi Kadam. While Kadam appears for NTPC, he has also appeared on behalf of RIL in several cases, Singhs letter argues.

The panel should also investigate why NTPC did not approach the petroleum ministry to approve the gas price formula. He has also sought that the committee examine Doabias statement in the Bombay High Court that RIL had not concluded the contract with NTPC. RIL has also been arguing that it has not concluded a contract with the power major but had only signed a letter of intent.

The NTPC-RIL case has gained prominence because it is important for another case involving RIL and Reliance Natural Resources Ltd (RNRL), promoted by Anil Ambani over the supply of gas from the Krishna Godavari basin.