PAC grills oil secy, gives time for defence

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Nov 18 2011, 09:11am hrs
Oil ministry officials, including petroleum secretary G C Chaturvedi, faced a tough grilling from the members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the CAG report on the Krishna Godavari (KG) basin gas fields, and have been given time till November 30 to come back better prepared for the deposition. On specific questions to why land had not been relinquished by RIL as per the contract and why losses to the exchequer had not been quantified, members declared themselves dissatisfied by the replies of the oil secretary.

Chaturvedi and Director General of Hydrocarbons, SK Srivastava, appeared before the PAC on Thursday. We asked very specific questions on each of the objections raised in the PAC report ... the oil secretary was evasive and said he would get back to us, specifically on the relinquishing of the land and quantification of losses, said a member of the committee.

Chaturvedi is understood to have said that the ministry did not quantify the losses as it comes under CAG's domain. At this, some members pointed that the losses were quantified in the draft report and the ministry's internal auditors should have worked on the issue. But some members also conceded that since this was the first audit of a PPP by the CAG, it could be the reason why losses were not quantified, said a member of the PAC who was there during the grilling.

On the issue of single-point bidding, the committee members asked the officials why the CAG was not explained the reason despite the government auditor raising objections on it. Again, the officials said they would get back to the committee on the matter.

The CAG had sharply criticised Reliance Industries and the oil ministry for violation of contract over the showpiece KG-D6 gas block and called for revamping the current profit-sharing arrangement that reduces government revenues.