SC notice to IGL on plea over gas price

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 5 2014, 07:19am hrs
The Supreme Court on Friday asked all city natural gas distribution entities, including the Delhi-based Indraprastha Gas (IGL), to file replies as to why they should not provide detailed break-ups of the maximum retail price (MRP) charged by them from consumers as sought by gas regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra, while issuing notice on the PNGRB's application to IGL, Mahanagar Gas, Aavantika Gas, Bhagyanagar Gas, Maharashtra Natural Gas, Central UP Gas and Sabarmati Gas observed:"This will not be a price control. You just have to give break-up for past prices to the consumers. As a citizen, I want to know about it." IGL opposed the Board's plea, saying it doesn't have any such break up.

Even the Central government on February 18 had directed all city or local natural gas distribution entities that for ensuring transparency in pricing, the break-up of the CNG (transport) and PNG (domestic) price needs to be disclosed to the consumers, PNGRB said, adding that the CGD entities were yet to comply with this directive.

Till the top court decides the issue, it will be would be fair and reasonable that all other entities covered under the PNGRB Act, 2006 start disclosing the break-up of the component of network tariff and compression charge for CNG included in the MRP charged by them to the customers on self-declaration based on their submissions to it, senior counsel Arvind Dattar, appearing for the board, argued.

Such disclosure of transportation tariff based on self-declaration by the entities is in the interests of fair trade, he said. The board said that city gas distribution entities have given their tariff submissions which in their view should be charged from their customers. However, due to efflux of time in the appeal, the data needs to be further updated by the entities.

However, a bench headed by Justice KS Radhakrishnan refused to give an early date for hearing after senior counsel Arvind Dattar and advocate Liz Mathew wanted urgent hearing on the boards application.

PNGRB in 2012 had directed IGL to cut it's network tariff to Rs 38.58 per million British thermal unit against Rs 104.05, down by around 63%. The regulator fixed CNG compression tariff at Rs 2.75 a kg against R6.66/kg charged by IGL.

IGL appealed against this in Delhi HC, which last year held that the regulator had no jurisdiction to fix rates or regulate gas tariffs for entities like IGL that have their own distribution network. Aggrieved by this, the gas regulator had moved the apex court, which in 2012 ordered it would be open to the Board to collect all the relevant information to fix any component of Network Tariff or Compression charge for an entity but such fixation shall not be notified without its permission.