Moily says no going back on gas price hike decision

Coming down heavily against Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for ordering an "unconstitutional" FIR against him and others for raising gas prices, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily today said the government will not go back on its decision to hike rates from April 1.

"Where is the question of stalling or stopping anything. It (the decision to raise gas prices for both public sector and private producers) has gone through a governance process ... It was considered by Cabinet twice and approved twice," Moily told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

The new rates, which are likely to be at USD 8-8.4 against the current price of USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit, are based on the recommendations of a committee that was appointed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the request of Moily's predecessor, S Jaipal Reddy.

Earlier this week, Kejriwal had ordered filing of a police complaint against Moily, Reliance Industries and its Chairman Mukesh Ambani for creating an artificial shortage of gas in the country and raising prices.

"I don't think Delhi government is our appellate authority. What they are doing is totally unconstitutional. And it is definitely against the principles of federalism," he said.

He said the FIR was "a very clear case that they are exercising powers which are extra-constitutional and rather I would say it is contrary to constitutional provisions."

Moily said the decision to allow PSU firms like ONGC as well as RIL a rate equivalent to the average price prevailing at international gas hubs and cost of importing the fuel into India in past 12 months, are based on the recommendation of a panel headed by Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (PMEAC) Chairman C Rangarajan.

"It is absolutely based on recommendations made by the Dr Rangarajan Committee. He is an eminent economist and he has gone through the mills. And I have not changed even a word or a full stop or a comma from the recommendation. So where is the question of Moily's verdict (on raising gas prices).

"The Rangarajan Committee was appointed by Mr Jaipal Reddy who was the (Oil) Minister. I have not appointed the committee to suit my needs," Moily added.

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