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Jaipal calls for open mind on CAG report

Mail Today Bureau     June 21, 2011
Petroleum minister S. Jaipal Reddy on Monday said his ministry will give an appropriate response in the next eight weeks on the Comptroller and Auditor General of India's (CAG ) draft report.

The report alleges that private oil and gas firms including Reliance Industries Ltd and Cairn benefited from favours doled out by the government.

"I am confident the CAG will look at our reply with an open mind. If in the final report they come out with criticism on some issues, we will also look at them with open mind," Reddy said at a press conference.

"Any observation or recommendation in the final report which is accepted by the government, we will act upon them and if not agreed upon, we will not act on them," the minister added.

"I am not saying that CAG observations are baseless. If there is some substance, we should be concerned," he said. The minister was of the view that everyone should exercise restraint on the issue till the final report is out.

The CAG in its June 8 draft report had stated that the petroleum ministry and the Director General of Hydrocarbons (DGH) favoured private firms such as Reliance and Cairn India by allowing them an unjustified increase in the estimate for the cost of producing the gas and retaining extra exploration acreage in violation of the norms.

The CBI is already investigating the role of the then DGH, V. K. Sibal, for granting undue favours to private companies including Reliance. The CAG report is expected to strengthen the CBI case in the matter.

Reddy criticised BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi and CPM leader Sitaram Yechury for premature criticism of his ministry over the observations in the draft CAG report.

Denying Joshi's allegations about Chidambaram, who was the finance minister in 2007 when the price was fixed for the gas produced from RIL's giant KGD6 eastern offshore field, Reddy said that the BJP leader was pursuing a personal agenda.
"Chidambaram was a member of an empowered group of ministers ( EGoM) which fixed the gas price. It was not an individual decision. It was not Chidambaram alone," he said.

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