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Mulayam Singh says Deora favouring RIL
Published on 4 Aug. 2009 12:55 AM IST
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Samajwadi Party leader Mulayam Singh Yadav shocked the Lok Sabha Monday when he levelled corruption charges against Petroleum Minister Murli Deora, who had earlier sought to spell out the government stand on the dispute over Reliance gas between the two Ambani brothers. Soon after, industrialist Anil Ambani welcomed Deora’s statement that natural gas will be supplied to his group’s power plant in Uttar Pradesh but said his brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries was deliberately keeping low the production of this natural resource from the Krishna-Godavari basin. “This is the minister who makes money. The petroleum minister must resign. He is indulging in corruption,” alleged Yadav, who led the protests in the Lok Sabha resulting in the house being adjourned. “Throughout the statement, the minister was trying to hide the real issue,” said Yadav, referring to Deora’s speech earlier explaining the government’s stand on the dispute over gas between Reliance Industries and Reliance Natural Resources. “He (Deora) is doing a favour worth Rs.50,000 crore to a single individual. The entire country is being hoodwinked,” Yadav, speaking in Hindi, alleged, after which Speaker Meira Kumar adjourned the house at 12.20 pm for two hours. Minister Deora was present in the Lok Sabha when Yadav made his allegation, including discrimination against Uttar Pradesh in supply of gas from the fields. He later got to his feet along with his Congress party colleagues to protest the serious charge. When the house reassembled, Yadav led his party colleagues in a walkout after Deputy Speaker Karia Munda, who was in the chair at that time, declined to allow him to speak any further over the issue, where he also sought gas for the Dadri power project in Uttar Pradesh, on the outskirts of the national capital. The protests by the Samajwadi Party members came after Deora issued a statement that the government would do everything possible to protect public interest over the distribution of gas from the fields, being called one of the largest such discoveries in Asia in recent years. Anil Ambani-led Reliance Natural Resources and elder brother Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries are fighting a bitter legal battle over the supply and pricing of gas from the fields off the Andhra Pradesh coast. Their dispute, brewing for nearly five years now, has arisen out of an agreement between their two companies. “We have nothing to do with the private dispute of companies or individuals,” Deora said, glossing over the dispute. “The intention of the government is very clear. We will allocate gas to Dadri plant subject to availability and Dadri plant will be treated on the same footing as other similar plants placed under similar circumstances.” Reacting to Deora’s statement, Ambani said he was happy to hear the government stand, based on the recommendations of a ministerial group, that gas should be supplied to his group’s Dadri power project in Uttar Pradesh from the fields allocated to Reliance Industries. “I welcome the honourable petroleum minister’s statement in parliament today, reaffirming the availability of gas for Reliance Power’s proposed project to be built at the Dhirubhai Ambani Energy City at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh,” he said. “Since the minister has made a comment that the Dadri plant is not yet operational or functional, I would like to clarify that this situation has been caused solely by Reliance Industries’ malafide conduct in consistently refusing to provide a bankable gas supply agreement to Reliance Natural Resources and NTPC.” Yet, Anil Ambani said, Minister Deora’s statement had also led to some concerns, mainly over the level of production from the Krishna-Godavari basin, over which his Reliance Natural Resources is fighting a bitter legal battle with Reliance Industries. Referring to the statement, Anil Ambani said Reliance Industries was pumping 31 million units of gas from the fields since April even though it should have gone up to 80 million by June-July after an initial level of 40 million. He wondered why it should take one more year to reach the optimal level. “This is truly surprising. Why is Reliance Industries producing less? The answer is simple. The production is artificially being kept at lower levels by Reliance Industries, owing to the lack of demand at the present exorbitant price of $4.2 per unit,” he said. Deora said as per the government’s gas utilisation policy, 15 million units per day was allocated to existing urea plants, 18 million units to existing power plants, 3 million units to distributors of cooking gas and another 5 million units for cooking gas for cities through pipelines. He said the Bombay High court judgment in May upholding the agreement between the two Ambani brothers had “implications on the government’s rights to formulate and implement the gas utilisation policy under the production-sharing contract”. This pact provides for 28 mmscmd to RNRL, 12 mmscmd to NTPC and the remaining to be shared between RIL and RNRL at a ratio of 60:40, he said. The formula will be applicable not just to Krishna-Godavari fields, but also to future discoveries and production by Reliance Industries, Deora said, adding: “Under the circumstances, it was necessary to file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court and accordingly action has been taken.”

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