In a first, Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has sought action against Secretaries who delayed finalising contract for the Ratna and R-Series oilfields for nearly two decades, leading to colossal loss of Rs 26,200 crore to the exchequer.
The fields, in western offshore, were awarded to a consortium of Essar Oil and Premier Oil of UK in 1996 but the contract could not be signed as the Negotiating Team of Secretaries (NTS) held unfruitful deliberations, resulting in eventual cancellation of award in March this year.
“The process of reaching a decision to finalise the PSC (Production Sharing Contract) was not completed even after 25 years of policy decision, 20 years of award and 17 years of approval of CCEA (Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs),” the PAC said in a report tabled in Parliament on Friday.
Headed by senior Congress leader KV Thomas, PAC “strongly deprecated” the rationale of NTS comprising of Secretaries to the ministries of Petroleum, Finance, Expenditure and Law, to keep “such a calculated silence and inaction, if not indifference”.
The delay by these officials resulted in a huge loss of Rs 26,200 crore to the exchequer and deprived the country of scarce resources for more than two decades “tantamount to criminal negligence”, PAC said.
It directed that “the responsibility for causing inordinate delays in decision making may be fixed and action be taken against the officials concerned under intimation to the Committee”.