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Arvind orders FIR against Mukesh, Moily, Murli

Arvind orders FIR against Mukesh, Moily, Murli
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday ordered Delhi’s anti-corruption bureau (ACB) to file an FIR against petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily, former union minister Murli Deora and RIL chief Mukesh Ambani for alleged collusion in the hike of prices of natural gas excavated from KG basin.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also demanded that the gas fields allocated to Reliance Industries in the Krishna-Godavari basin off the Andhra Pradesh coast be taken back and handed over to the state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC).

The case is sought to be filed on the basis of complaint filed by former cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, former navy chief Admiral R H Tahiliani, eminent lawyer Kamini Jaiswal and former union secretary EAS Sarma.

Justifying the move of ordering an ACB probe, a government press release said since most of the alleged offences, including the most important decision to finalise the exorbitant hike in prices of gas, have been committed in Delhi, the investigation has been referred to the ACB. The chief minister added that the complaints have mentioned that most of the offences, including the fixing of gas prices, were all committed in Delhi. It affects the entire population of Delhi.

‘RIL’s partner NIKO has a 25 years contract with the Bangladesh government to supply gas at the rate of $ 2.34 per million British unit (mmBtu) while the government buckled under pressure of RIL to increase the price from existing $ 4.2 mmBtu to $ 8.4 mmBtu (Rs 524.20). This increase will have a direct impact on CNG and PNG  price hike and cascading effect on power tariff, passenger fare, goods fare and cost of living,’ argued the chief minister. He further contended that the connivance of senior government officers, ministers and RIL will have caused a direct loss of minimum Rs 54,000 crore per annum to the exchequer and in addition to this the central government allowed RIL to make a future windfall profit of Rs 1.2 lakh crores.

The chief minister also shot off a letter to the prime minister on the issue and demanded that hike in the price of gas be put in abeyance till the time the probe into the matter is completed by ACB. ‘I would also raise the issue with prime minister Manmohan Singh and call for a further hike in gas prices from 1 April to be kept in abeyance,’ he said.

Also named in the FIR are Moily’s predecessor in the oil ministry Murli Deora and former director general of Hydrocarbons VK Sibal. This is the first decision in which Kejriwal has sought to target ministers at the Centre and a high-profile corporate. Kejriwal, whose government survives on Congress support, has been needling the party by launching probes into alleged corruption in Commonwealth Games projects and other issues.

Former DG, Hydrocarbons, VK Sibal and RIL will also be arraigned in the case which will be based on a ‘common complaint’ filed by Subramanian, Tahiliani, Kamini Jaiswal and Sarma. Alleging collusion between ministers, officials and RIL, Kejriwal said the details in the complaint were ‘shocking’ and were an assault on the country’s economic sovereignty amounting to anti-national activity. Calling Kejriwal as ignorant, Moily said Delhi CM did not know how government functions. He said fixing of price of petroleum products is done as per expert advice. ‘I think I should sympathise with his ignorance. He should know how the government functions, how these things are done... I took special interest to ensure that the CNG and PNG prices are reduced. You should know that,’ he said.

However, CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta, who has challenged the price hike decision in the Supreme Court, welcomed Kejriwal’s decision. Reliance Industries Ltd said Delhi goverment decision is shocking. Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Ajay Maken said his party was not against a probe.

‘The government took no action against the RIL for its deliberate drop in production and ignored the CAG report in May 2012 and on the contrary accepted the RIL demand for doubling the gas prices from 1 April this year.

This is a clear case of causing unimaginable loss to the government exchequer,’ said the complaint. Kejriwal said since the decision to double the prices of gas will become effective from April 1 this year, when the term of the UPA government would almost be over, it should have left the decision on gas prices to the next government.
Roushan Ali

Roushan Ali

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