Congress leader Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday demanded a probe under supervision of a sitting Supreme Court judge into the alleged Rs 19,760-crore scam in Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), whose working has been severely criticised by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India.
In a report, tabled in the Assembly in March 2016, the CAG had rapped GSPC for investing Rs 19,576 crore in a Krishna-Godavari (KG) block for gas exploration. Four years ago, the auditor had criticised GSPC’s operations in KG basin, and said “numerous faulty investment and destructive administrative decisions” had led to a loss of Rs 7,000 crore to the firm.
Addressing mediapersons, Ramesh, AICC general secretary, said that GSPC was awarded a KG block in 2003 for gas exploration by Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government. He said in 2005, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had announced that Deendayal block in KG basin, awarded to GSPC, had 20 lakh crore cubic feet gas reserves.
Citing the 2016 CAG report, the Congress leader, said GSPC took a loan of Rs 19,576 crore from public sector banks for financing exploration and production activities from 2005 to 2012, but the gas reserve in the block was not more than one lakh core cubic feet.
Ramesh said the CAG report had described this as a “real loss” against the “presumed loss” in the 2G scam and the coal block allocations, which Modi raised during the runup to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He said Modi misled the nation.
“There are two types of liars. One set of liars are those speaking falsehood on certain occasions, and the others have falsehood in their DNA. Modi belongs to the second category,” he said.
Ramesh said 11 years have passed since GSPC started borrowing money, and commercial production of natural gas is yet commence in KG basin. “What happened to all this money?”
He said the previous Gujarat government awarded contracts to extract gas to Delhi-based apparel manufacturer Tuff Drilling, and Barbados-based Geo Global Resources — none of which had any exploration experience. According to CAG report, both the companies are now insolvent.
Stating that GSPC also invested in gas and petroleum explorations in Egypt, Russia, Indonesia and Vietnam and spent about Rs 2,000 crore, Ramesh said the net result, according to the CAG report, was zero. GSPC, he said, also claimed to have invested $135 million in Egypt. “The Egyptian government recently wrote to the Government of Gujarat to provide proof investments in Egypt,” he said.
Rejecting Ramesh’s allegations, state Energy Minister Saurabh Patel said that it was an attempt by Congress to tarnish image of the extremely successful public undertaking.
Patel, in a statement, said Congress, which was “involved” in the 2G scam and irregularities in the coal block allocations, could not defend itself by levelling baseless allegations against GSPC.
On allegations that Egypt had asked the Gujarat government to provide proof of GSPC’s investment, the minister said that Egyptian government released GSPC’s bank guarantee after auditing the company’s investment. “There was no question of the Egyptian government releasing bank guarantee, if GSPC’s work was not satisfactory,” he said.