Government forcing ONGC to buy scam-tainted GSPC: Congress

New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) The Congress on Thursday accused the Centre of arm-twisting India’s largest petroleum company ONGC to buy what the party said was “scam-tainted” Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) in order to cover up its Rs 20,000 crore scam.

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has accused the GSPC of squandering Rs 20,000 crore raised as loans from 15 public sector banks, the Congress said and accused Petroleum Minister Dharmemdra Pradhan of pressurising the officials to merge the GSPC with the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to cover up the wrongdoings.

The opposition party alleged that the GSPC borrowed all the money at the behest of the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi between 2005 to 2014.

“Pradhan is desperate to protect his prime minister. He wants to palm off GSPC’s KG block to another PSU, the ONGC, because the former is in deep financial distress and is unable to repay even the loan interest,” Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh told the media here.

“The GSPC has squandered Rs 20,000 crore and handed out lucrative contracts to dubious Barbados entities and apparel companies,” he said, asserting that the GSPC could not ensure any gas yield from the Krishna Godavari basin with that money.

“It is all unraveling so fast for the GSPC and Modi that Pradhan is caught completely off-guard in safeguarding his master,” Ramesh said.

He also accused the GSPC for involvement in suspicious transactions in Yemen, Egypt and using the loan money for the purpose.

“The Egypt government wrote a letter to the Gujarat government, asking for an explanation as to how $135 million, claimed to have been spent by the GSPC in Egypt, were spent in reality. The state government is suppressing the letter,” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader said the Egyptain government had also said that it could not see any evidence of the money spent on discovering gas.

“Maybe the money was spent (by GSPC) on beautifying the pyramids. Who knows, but it was not spent on discovering gas,” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader also accused the Centre of lying to the nation on the issue of gas reserves.

Modi had claimed that the GSPC’s gas reserves are 20 trillion cubic feet while Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said in parliament that they were about 14 tcf, Ramesh said, adding that in reality, the actual proven and extractable reserves are just 1.1 tcf.

He said that even from this amount, the chances of gas yield was less than 10 percent.



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