Strongly refuting allegations of favouring Reliance Industries, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily today hit back at CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta saying the Left MP was being swayed by
vested interests to stall decision making in the oil sector.
Terming Dasgupta's allegations as "baseless and malicious," Moily in a point-by-point rebuttal said attempts were being made to derail his efforts to bring back the sector to path of performance and efficiency so that USD 160 billion oil imports that have drained the economy, can be curtailed.
Dasgupta, who had previously accused Moily of favouring RIL by proposing a steep increase in gas prices, yesterday alleged that the minister was stalling an arbitration initiated to punish the company for failing to produce natural gas as per its own targets.
Stating that the allegation had no "factual basis," Moily in a statement said, "No decision regarding this pending arbitration proceeding was ever sought" from him since his taking over in November last year.
"A perusal of the relevant file reveals that the file has not been dealt with by anyone in this Ministry after December 17, 2012," the statement said.
RIL had served the notice of arbitration on November 23, 2011, much before the May 2, 2012 notice was sent to it denying over USD 1 billion of KG-D6 cost for producing less than target.
The then Oil Minister S Jaipal Reddy had in June last year decided to joint arbitration proceedings by appointing a government arbitrator.
"It was decided before the joining of the present Minister (Moily) that the recovery cannot be made pending arbitration proceedings," the statement said.
On the allegation that no new penalty was imposed on RIL to further live up to the promised production, Moily said, "No decision has been sought either by the Ministry or the DGH from him for issuance of such notices for the further period."
Moily said the file pertaining to RIL being asked to relinquish a certain part of the KG basin block KG-D6 as per the contract, has not yet been submitted and so there was no question of defying CAG recommendation.
CAG had previously questioned allowing RIL to retain the entire gas-rich block and not surrender parts after each phase of exploration as had been provided in the Production Sharing Contract (PSC).
"As regards to sabotaging the arbitration process and pressurizing the officials to write a note, it is based on figment of imagination and, therefore, no comments could be offered," the statement said.
Moily said a decision was taken to join the arbitration initiated by RIL before he took over the ministry.
"In view of the above, it is clearly evident that these allegations are baseless and malicious and the Hon'ble Member (of Parliament) seems to be getting swayed by some vested interests in order to stall the decision making process in the Ministry and derail a serious attempt to bring back Petroleum Sector towards the path of performance and efficiency," he added.