Cabinet to hike natural gas prices despite opposition

Oil minister has proposed an increase of 60 per cent

Cabinet to hike natural gas prices despite opposition

Amidst stiff opposition by the Left, the Cabinet is moving ahead with the proposal to steeply hike natural gas prices.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs(CCEA) on Friday deferred the decision on the issue, as Oil Minister Veerappa Moily was away from the national capital. But the government asserted that it will consider the proposal next week.  CPI, on the other hand, demanded a probe by a Supreme Court Judge  into  the affair and insisted that Moily should resign.   

 “The paper was there,  the minister  was unavoidably called to Agartala. Therefore, he requested deferment. It is deferred by a few days,” Finance Minister Chidambaram told reporters.  Moily has proposed a hike of 60 percent. According to the proposal, the prices are to be increased from 4.2 US Dollar million British Thermal Unit to 6.775 million British Thermal Unit.

Moily was in Tripura to attend the inauguration of an ONGC power plant in Agartala , inaugurated by President Pranab Mukhejee. “The proposal will come up before the CCEA next week and we will address the issue," Chidambaram said.

Apprehending the hike will increase the prices of electricity, urea and CNG,  the Left is  up in arms over the proposal. They have alleged that the move is to benefit the Reliance Industries.  Senior CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta is demanding  a freez on the proposal as it will benefit Reliance Industries which has kept the production of gas lower than the provisions of the contract.  CPI on Friday jumped to Dasgupta’s defence, demanding Moily’s resignation and asked for a probe into why such a proposal has been moved.

“This is a serious matter subverting the national interests of the country in order to favour a big Corporate House. The CPI therefore demands that a high level inquiry, preferably by a Supreme Court Judge should be instituted and that Veerappa Moily should resign.
“Moily has tried to deflect these allegations backed by irrefutable evidence by maliciously suggesting that Dasgupta’s charges are made at the instance of ‘vested interests’ and ‘import lobbies’ and are baseless,” said the CPI.

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