Saturday, August 15, 2009

busy, busy, busy

All lines on this route are busy. Try calling up the Attorney General Ghoolam Vahanvati these days and you will find that his line is busy. There is a veritable call deluge on his phone. From the BCCI satraps to PSU power major NTPC to the government, everyonbe seems to be calling him for help. His sage counsel is required for vexed issues as diverse from the privacy and public liberty of our cricketers to NTPC's rights in the contentious gas row with RIL.

And the AG is answering all calls. After the Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam slammed RIL for not honouring its 'concluded contract' for the expansion programme for NTPC's Kawas and Gandhar plants, it is now the AG's turn to shakedown RIL for its inability to fulfil tender commitments. Both the government law officers are in no mood to listen to any 'bakwas.' They want justice delayed, but not denied to be the maxim.

The AG has now castigated NTPC arguing that it should appeal to the SC against RIL, "without any loss of time." He has roundly criticised RIL saying, "It is indeed strange that RIL should place this burden (of inability to fulfil tender commitments) on the Union of India as having taken away the foundational basis of a very carefully structured bid which must have been undertaken with the concurrence of the administrative ministry."

Mukesh Ambani has very smartly used the oil ministry and the DGH to fight his battles. He has kept his head low in the trenches till now, but with the noise getting louder and louder by the day, it will that much more difficult to hide behind the coat tails of these worthies anymore. It is now or never as we go into the final round of this long drawn out gas opera. Just 15 days short of the hearing in the SC, the government's law officers have indeed complicated things for Mukeshbahi and RIL. NTPC's contract is for 12 million units of gas per day for 17 years and RIL has reneged on it. NTPC's half hearted attempts at reclaiming this gas are pending in the Bombay High Court and this is what the SG and AG are not roundly angry about. NTPC under the aegis of the powerless power ministry should have pursued it more aggressively, they contend.

2 comments:

George said...

the revelation by the Solicitor General is yet another warning to the government to clean up the gas mess without further delay. Subramaniam does not mince words when he says, “I regret to say that if international competitive bidding processes are intended to be treated with such disdain by a responsible bidder (in this case RIL), the world of business founded on trust and faith will break down.” He has further very strongly said "the volte face of RIL is regrettable and blamable."

Gautam said...

it is strange that the government goes all out to help RIL wriggle out of contracts it no longer wishes to abide by, but not stand by its own company which may lose up to Rs 20,000 crore due to gas supplied at double the contracted price? One also wonders whether the NTPC’s delay in taking legal action against Mukesh Ambani was out of incompetence or under “advice”?