23 October, 2020

Rigged Deals

The CBI glosses over a Rs 5,000 cr oil scandal involving the Centre and private industrial houses

Rigged Deals

THE leasing of the Oil and Natural Gas Commission’s (ONGC) Panna-Mukta oilfields in Bombay High to the Reliance-Enron consortium threatens to snowball into a major controversy, and yet the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) seems reluctant to investigate the scam. According to a rough estimate, the government stands to lose a whopping Rs 5,000-7,000 crore on the contract, which was finalised during former petroleum minister Satish Sharma’s tenure.

Despite indications of a quid pro quo between the private companies interested in bagging the contract and several decision-makers in the government, the federal investigating agency has not followed the leads. It has been sitting over the probe for more than one-and-a-half years. In a scathing report, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) criticised the arbitrary manner in which the contracts were awarded. He said that the government had flouted rules at will and favoured private companies.

The CAG report notes that the cost incurred by ONGC in developing...



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