Thursday, August 6, 2009

ntpc left holding baby and bathwater

Gaswale uncle is going great guns in parliament and he cares two hoots for what the rest of the world thinks. Isn't it amazing a section of the government (oil ministry) is out to undermine and even jeopardise the interests of another (power ministry). In a brazen and blatant manner and the powers that be are not able to do a damn thing. Let us for a moment forget about the Ambani gas opera. Throw it into the nearest the waste paper basket. Let us concentrate on the interests of NTPC, a government owned navratna. Nobody seems to care about the poor PSU's interests in this gas opera. They are the first and rightful claimant of the gas as per an international tender that they put out which was secured by RIL at $2.34. The government seems to be powerless. Yes powerless for poor NTPC is part of the power ministry which has no voice whatsoever in the Union cabinet.

With gaswale uncle now officially refuting NTPC's right to 12 million units per day for 17 years on the floor of the house, it is curtains for NTPC. To use gaswale uncle's exact words - RIL's $2.34 gas price for NTPC is not valid, selling price will be $4.20. So, the RIL spokesperson in the government Murli Deora couldn't care less as he toes the RIL line in parliament. Saying that it is an unconcluded contract, Deora doesn't want to be reminded that RIL sent its letter cancelling the contract on June 17, 2005, a day prior to the Kokilaben Ambani family settlement announcement. That the price is $4.20 is not lost on anyone. 420 is a number that all Indians are familiar with. It is a synonym for duplicity and fraud.

Even more significantly, Deora ruled out nationalising of the KG Basin fields to virtually ensure that Mukesh Ambani's unfettered claims on the 'national resource' remain intact. All this even as MPs across party lines attacked him. But he didn't bat an eyelid. Does this performance in parliament dash the hopes of NTPC once and for all? Or will the Supreme Court prove to be the final arbiter, like it always does? Fundamentally, technically and legally many legal ceagles reckon that the Supreme Court cannot find fault with the Bombay High Court judgment in favour of RNRL. This will be bedrock on which the SC will give its final say. But that certainly leaves powerless NTPC holding the baby and the bathwater.

Deora said, "We have nothing to do with the private dispute of the two industrialists. However, we have everything to do with protecting the interests of the government and public. It is our constitutional and legal obligation to protect the people of India and we will, honestly honour it. We will make all endeavours to protect the government's legal rights to regulate the utilisation of gas and its allocation."

Excuse me, let us the people of India remind Mr Minister that NTPC is a government owned company which is publicly listed and has lakhs of shareholders - government, foreigners and Indian public and to any right minded person epitomises everything that Deora is defending so stoutly in parliament. Only for him 'protecting interests' of Reliance Industriues gains paramountcy over everything else. Meanwhile, NTPC and the power ministry appear helpless in the face of such brazen speak.

1 comment:

ginnraj said...

the government has not really covered itself in glory. In fact, the state-run NTPC may be the biggest loser in this since it stands to lose Rs 20,000 crore on gas supplies. Interestingly, by raising the gas price Murli Deora seems content to allow a public sector Navratna company to take a massive hit. It is clear now who he is trying to shield in this.