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Millennium Post

Revoking licence just an eyewash

It is interesting to note how the oil ministry has overruled the recommendations of the directorate general of hydrocarbons (DGH) and practically bowed to the errant corporate giant Reliance Industries Ltd and allowed it to retain three prized (Krishna Godavari – Dhirubhai 6) KG-D6 gas fields, D29, D30 and D31, which hold around 2.2 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas, even though the company has repeatedly failed to meet the production target. Unfortunately, most of the Indian media is busy reporting on how the Veerappa Moily-led oil ministry has taken away five gas discoveries from RIL (and its Western partners, UK’s British Petroleum Plc and Canada’s Niko Resources Ltd ) in the KG-D6 block, which altogether hold about 0.805 tcf of reserves, or about one-fourth of the restated reserves in the currently producing D1 and D3 fields in the block, and are worth about $ 10 billion. But what is going deliberately unnoticed is that the DGH had asked RIL to relinquish the three fields on account of the company’s failure to perform the drill stem test (DST) that, according to the DGH, is essential during the exploration stage. However, the oil ministry has brushed aside the concerns of the DGH and allowed RIL to continue to drill in the three controversial gas fields, while taking back the five sites that were anyway becoming a liability for the Mukesh Ambani-led RIL. This clearly points towards the fact that the ministerial decision has been influenced by the corporate big wig and has been dressed in such a manner so as to appear as if the government is coming down heavily on the non-performing business house.

Evidently, what is being presented as a great governmental crackdown on truant corporations who are shirking their responsibility to produce requisite measures and engage in systematic and sustainable explorations, is, in effect, a great charade perpetrated by the business-bureaucratic-political nexus to facilitate private profit over public interest. The KG-D6 gas shortage pulls the lid off the malaise that is corroding the state apparatus from within, with priceless and limited natural resources being squandered away to rapacious private sector units as throwaway prices at the expense of public sector units. Certainly, instead of disciplining the delinquent companies, the government is hand in glove with them, festering the atmosphere of crony capitalism that benefits and gives a free hand to a handful of corporate bodies while vehemently propagating a pro-people image. This is the reason why scams and corruption still breed in every nook and cranny of the system, while even the corporations complain of having an unfavourable investment atmosphere. Whether it is the natural resources like coal, oil and natural gas, or minerals like bauxite, and even the telecom spectrum, the tendency to obstruct free, fair, transparent competition is ubiquitous. Quite naturally, the country’s political class, policy fraternity, business decision makers and think tanks are in bed together when it comes to bypassing or altogether overriding what is ethically right and moulding the public opinion to suit their interests. Unfortunately, the media houses these days behave like fronts for the government-corporation combine, presenting propaganda as hard news.
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