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Millennium Post

Bold step to bring in transparency

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to file criminal cases against India’s biggest corporate giant Mukesh Ambani as well as against oil minister Veerappa Moily and other policy makers in connection with artificially inflating gas prices is a brilliant and brave step to address the yawning gap between private profits and public burden. As has been widely speculated and alleged for a long time, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) has not only bungled with coal blocks and oil and natural gas drill allocations, they have also, in collusion with the ministry, think-tanks, lobbyists and industry watchers, made illegal gains and windfalls through dubious means. The RIL-owned KG-D6 basin has been in the eye of the storm for a while now, with Ambani, along with the oil and natural gas ministry, trying their best to deflect growing criticism against their systematic escalation of gas prices much in excess of the cost of production, underpaying the government in terms of taxes and revenues as well as overcharging the distribution companies, a cost which was then spread out by overburdening the consumers. Every time, dissent in this regard has been quashed by saying that gas pricing is not a state issue and that the matter is sub-judice. However, in the interest of larger public good, it must be made known how exactly is the gas price estimated and what all measures do the government and the energy giant go through to determine the exorbitant costs of the everyday fuel.

In fact, that the union government and even the courts, are more lenient towards the private sector companies represented by RIL or the Anil Ambani-owned BSES power discoms, is more than evident, since the privilege is not extended to NTPC and other state-owned generation companies, leading to deep holes in their pockets. Given that the rank and file of the UPA cabinet is in bed with the Reliance, the owner of which had once likened the Congress to its ‘shop’, as hearsay goes, Kejriwal’s endeavour to bring to the surface the subterranean currents of fraudulence running through every nook and crack of our system, is commendable. As with the power discoms, consumers have been forced to pay through their noses thanks to the exorbitant utility price. It is therefore a laudable effort on the part of the Delhi CM to seek a legal redress of this problem.
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