Gurudas accuses Moily of defying EC directive on gas pricing

CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta today accused Petroleum Minister M Veerappa Moily of "openly defying" Election Commission directive and Cabinet decision by allegedly ordering notification of doubling of gas prices with retrospective effect to benefit Reliance.

In separate letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath, he urged them to stop the implementation of the "illegal order".

Noting that the poll panel had directed the government to defer the hike in natural gas prices from $4.2 to $8.4 per mmbtu until the end of elections, he said Moily "overruled senior officials and ordered that the increase in prices be notified on May 17 and applied retrospectively from April one," even after Petroleum Ministry officials conveyed the EC order to Reliance, Fertiliser Ministry and other stakeholders.

"This is another glaring example of the dubious role being played by the Petroleum Minister in repeatedly overruling senior officers of the (Petroleum) Ministry to give huge favours to Reliance," Dasgupta said.

He said the Minister had also violated the 'Domestic Natural Gas Pricing Guidelines' approved by the Cabinet in December 2013 which stated that gas prices should be "notified in advance on a quarterly basis", thereby excluding any retrospective fixing of gas prices.

Moily's order was "not only an open defiance of the Election Commission, it is also contrary to the decision of his own Cabinet," the senior CPI leader said.

Dasgupta urged the Prime Minister and the Election Commission "to direct the Petroleum Secretary not to implement the illegal orders of the Petroleum Minister and ensure that any retrospective increase in prices is not implemented."

"I would request that you may kindly call for the records of the Petroleum Ministry and satisfy yourself that the Petroleum Minister is blatantly violating ECI directions and the Cabinet decision in the matter," he told the Prime Minister.

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