CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta says Reliance will stand to gain thousands of crores

The Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry is on the verge of perpetrating a “gigantic scam” by advocating a gas price hike that would benefit the Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) to the tune of thousands of crores, said CPI MP Gurudas Dasgupta at a press conference here on Thursday. Mr. Dasgupta has sought the intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in not only putting an end to this “national loot” but also in deciding on whether Veerappa Moily, the Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, can continue in office.

Mr. Dasgupta, who also released a letter to the Prime Minister along with some documents including parts of a Cabinet note on the gas price hike, said while the Rangarajan panel had recommended almost doubling the $4.2 mbtu price, Mr. Moily had gone much further and recommended that the gas price be $8 mbtu in the first year, $10 mbtu in the second year, $12 mbtu in the third year and $14 mbtu in the last two years — close to what RIL had been demanding. “The Petroleum Secretary and other senior officials had opposed the Moily formula three times and returned the file. But Mr. Moily is putting pressure on them to sign the file that contains his recommendations. If the Moily formula is accepted then the country would be faced with an additional subsidy burden of Rs. 76,000 crore, all this to benefit an industrial house. It is high time that the Prime Minister should intervene in the matter and put an end to this betrayal of the nation and remove Mr. Moily from the Cabinet,’’ he demanded.

Mr. Dasgupta claimed that if RIL’s price of $13.8 mbtu price is accepted, the increase in the subsidy burden would be Rs. 36,000 crore per year and the corresponding profit will be Rs. 32,400 crore for RIL. For the five-year period, this would translate into an additional subsidy outgo of Rs. 1,80,000 crore and an additional profit of Rs. 1,62,000 crore for RIL. “This is a gigantic scam that is in the process of being enacted through the generous assistance of the petroleum Ministry,” he remarked.

“What is even more shocking is that Mr. Moily has been pitching for RIL despite strong resistance by officials in the Petroleum Ministry including the Petroleum Secretary to a massive hike in gas prices. In the present scenario, with high inflation and a slowdown in the economy, an increase in gas prices will result in huge increases in the prices of fertilizers and power tariff which will derail the economy and hit the common man severely,” he said.

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