Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani is suddenly feeling sad over his younger brother's acerbic pinpoint pincer attacks. Finally the deafening silence has been met with pangs of sadness over the nature of personal attacks launched by Anil Ambani. Rather late in the day to develop bouts of emotion, wouldn't you think? While reacting, he has chosen not to deal with substantive issues raised by the ongoing gas opera. All this while Mukesh Ambani has chosen to hide behind oil minister Murli Deora and hydrocarbons boss VK Sibal. He has let them do the talking. The matter is sub judice, he argues. He is keeping quiet out of respect for the Supreme Court which is adjudicating on the matter. But that doesn't prevent Deora, Sibal and company from launching virulent tirades against NTPC and RNRL. Meanwhile at a function in Mumbai he collected the other half of his family in a show of strength, but failed to respond to the material charges levelled against him and his company.
Subir Raha who knows a thing or two about NELP and production sharing contracts having been chairman of ONGC for many years has lashed out at the oil ministry in a devastating critique in the Economic Times. Raha writes, "The present petroleum minister has held the job for three and a half years; he had the cramp on 'sovereign right on mineral resources' only after the Bombay H.C decided on the RIL-RNRL case. Evidently he is oblivious of the fact that the prime purpose of his ministership is to protect and exercise those rights! Going by media reports, the ministry's and the ministry's case is that to make any offer of sale, the 'contractor' is required under the production sharing contract (PSC) to obtain prior approval of quantity and price from the ministry of petroelum and natural gas. Did the ministry 'approve' RIL's bid before it was submitted to NTPC? The point of dispute in the RIL-NTPC case is whether the global tender was concluded in a contract? Going by the stand now taken by the petroleum minister, RIL's bid was illegal because by all accounts, prior 'approval' of the petroleum ministry was not taken. The illegal tender should have been rejected outright; on the other hand, NELP terms and conditions were publicised in full by GoI MoPNG, and NTPC should have made such prior 'approval' for domestic NELP gas a pre-qualification criterion. Either way, NTPC is at fault. Absurd."
Well said Major Raha. He then goes on to blow away Deora's contention by saying, "NELP and award of each PSC under NELP is approved by the Cabinet; individual ministers cannot make any change in a signed PSC. Even when a minister and a contractor agree on modifications, the Cabinet has to accord formal approval...There is deafening silence from one set of interested parties: the power minister, his ministry and his company?" Amazing isn't it that a former chairman of navratna PSU ONGC has had to take up cudgels on behalf of another navratna PSU - NTPC? Nobody cares about NTPC, a public listed company with the government and foreign and domestic investors as its shareholders. Even as the brothers slug it out, NTPC writhes in pain and the government and parliament is seemingly paralysed by gas. It is another matter that sugar, pulses and vegetable prices are running amok.