The security clearance was one of the conditions that the government had set for Vedanta group buying 40% stake in Cairn India from UK’s Cairn Energy. The two entities have already agreed to the other condition of Cairn India paying cess and royalty on crude oil produced from its mainstay Rajasthan oilfields
New Delhi: The home ministry has given its approval to London-listed miner Vedanta Resources’ buying majority stake in Cairn India for $8.7 billion, reports PTI.
The home ministry, while giving the security no-objection certificate (NOC), highlighted eight areas of concern, including 64 legal proceedings against Vedanta and its subsidiaries in various courts, sources privy to the development said.
The security clearance was one of the conditions that the government had set for Vedanta group buying 40% stake in Cairn India from UK’s Cairn Energy Plc.
Cairn Energy and Vedanta have already agreed to the other condition of Cairn India paying cess and royalty on crude oil produced from its mainstay Rajasthan oilfields.
Cairn India does not pay royalty and cess on its 70% share in the Rajasthan block as per the contract, but its current majority owner, Cairn Energy, and new owner Vedanta forced it to accept the government condition of making royalty cost recoverable and paying Rs2,500 per tonne cess.
Also, the government had a conditioned approval to the deal on Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which has 30% stake in Rajasthan block and pays royalty on behalf of Cairn India, giving its NOC. ONGC has agreed to give the NOC if Cairn India accepts to make royalty cost recoverable and pay cess.
Sources said the ministry’s 25th November letter to the oil ministry pointed to Vedanta Group’s investment in cases of “default of payment, human rights violations, environmental damage in its mining and metal projects etc in India and abroad.”
But these concerns did not have a “direct bearing on the security NOC”, it said.
The cases highlighted include alleged customs duty evasion by Sesa Goa in iron ore export, case filed by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) against Hindustan Zinc for which investigation was still in progress and environment ministry’s rejection of its earlier clearance to Sterlite Industries for mining bauxite from Niyamgiri hills.
Two activists had filed a potential class action suit against UIDAI requesting the Bangalore City Civil Judge to declare the Aadhaar scheme as illegal
Bengaluru-based Col (Retd.) Mathew Thomas of Citizens' Action Forum and VK Somasekhar, founder-trustee of Grahak Shakti have filed a potential class action suit against the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). In the petition, both the activists requested the Bangalore City Civil Judge to declare Aadhaar scheme as illegal, stop enrolment in the scheme and grant injuction against entering into any contracts binding the government and expending taxpayers money.
According to the petition, the UIDAI chairman has entered into number of agreements, contracts, and memorandum of understanding (MOUs) with both Indian and international private companies, as an authority of the Government of India, without the sanction of law.
In addition, the National Identification Authority of India Bill (NAI Bill), the proposed law on Aadhaar, is worded in such a way that regularises all the activities of the chairman from the day it was constituted as an authority by the Union government and deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission. "The Bill seeks to provide ex-post-facto blanket approval of all such acts of the first defendant (UIDAI chairman). It is respectfully submitted that first defendant on the basis of such a draft bill is continuing with the implementation of the Aadhaar scheme in entire India. It is respectfully submitted that the same is illegal," the petition said.
It said, the UIDAI chairman has also entered into contracts with 209 companies, organizations, societies as Enrolling Agencies by saying that Aadhaar is a high technology project. However, it has selected number of organizations, companies, societies, whose capacity and qualifications are doubtful, it said.
According to the petition, an organisation that is an education society in rural Andhra Pradesh secures rights of enrolling agency for entire state of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The basis on which, the agency was granted the license for enrolling people of these states is still unknown and raises questions on the criteria employed by the first defendant for empanelling private companies as enrolling agencies. Similar is the case of a Tea Estate Company being licensed as an enrolling agency that has been granted enrolling job in entire state of Assam, it said.
Some of the enrolling agencies have already sub contracted the work, allegedly against the rules of the first defendant, which prohibit sub-contracting of the work, the petition said. "One of the enrolling agencies, Alankit Financial Services sub-contracted enrolling at Bangalore to another private company, ID Global Technology Solutions. The latter is alleged to have indulged in franchising enrolling business to many other private companies. ID Global Technology Solutions is alleged to have been taking deposits of Rs2.5 Lakh from the franchisees. When the first defendant was confronted by the said fraud, it has stated that it was not aware of this illegal activity," said Col (Retd.) Thomas and Mr Somasekhar.
They alleged that the entire process of enrolling was done by a sub-contracting agency in Mysore district. There were instances where the agency and its employees in collusion with other persons have been issuing fake Aadhaar numbers to those who can pay at Mysore. The same was reported in a Kannada television channel known as TV9.
According to the petition, there is urgency in filing the suit as the defendants (UIDAI, Union Govt, and Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission) intend to complete major part of the Aadhaar enrolment before the matter is decided by the Standing Committee on Finance of the Parliament and presented before the Lok Sabha so as to compel the Parliament to support the project with retrospective effect as money has already been spent.
"Every day the UID project continues, several crore of rupees of taxpayers' money would be lost. Apart from this, the continued gathering of people's data would be an unacceptable security risk both to the people and the nation its self. It is respectfully submitted that while millions are dying of hunger, starvation and deprivation be it children, women, men or aged persons, spending such huge amounts of money to benefit and make it possible for many to pocket the money at the expense of the citizen in the name of Aadhaar even without any legislative sanction is illegal. Plaintiffs are affected by the conduct of the defendants and so are many millions of Indians," said Col (Retd.) Thomas and Mr Somasekhar in the petition.
“We have got a letter from RIL. Whatever issues have been raised, we would study and whatever needs to be done, will be done,” minister of state for petroleum and natural gas RPN Singh told reporters
New Delhi: Days after Reliance Industries (RIL) slapped an arbitration notice on the government against its move to limit the cost the company can recoup from flagging KG-D6 gas fields, the oil ministry today hinted that it would not like to rush into arbitration. It said it would study the issue before deciding on the move to make, reports PTI.
“We have got a letter from RIL. Whatever issues have been raised, we would study and whatever needs to be done, will be done,” minister of state for petroleum and natural gas RPN Singh told reporters here.
The ministry has been contemplating action against RIL for acute pressure drop and water ingress bringing down output from Dhirubhai-1 and 3 gas fields in KG-D6 block, to about 34 million metric standard cubic meters per day compared to 61.88 mmscmd target, by limiting the amount of expenditure it is allowed to recoup.
“We are clearly not rushing into (arbitration)... we will look into issues raised by RIL,” Mr Singh said.
The 24th November arbitration notice gives the ministry 30 days time to initiate steps like appointing arbitrators.
Sudhir Bhargava, additional secretary, ministry of petroleum and natural gas stated that RIL had “only sent a letter” and not an arbitration notice.
“There is no arbitration notice,” he said.
Mr Singh said the ministry will act “as soon as possible” on the RIL notice.
Asked if the ministry was contemplating punitive action, he said “we are considering several things. The fall in output at KG-D6 is a matter of concern for the nation and for us”.
While action is contemplated against RIL for output being less than target, no incentive will be given to operators if production is higher than targets, Mr Singh said.
RIL’s KG-D6 fields produced more than 61.5 mmscmd of output by March 2010, 50% more than the target for 2009-10. And the production was lower than the target only for one year, 2010-11.
RIL, in its 24th November notice, stated that restricting cost recovery—now at 100% —in proportion to the gas output was against the Production Sharing Contract (PSC) it had signed for KG-D6 block in 2000.
The ministry and its technical arm DGH are calculating as to how much of the $5.693 billion expenditure RIL has incurred on building facilities—which can handle up to 80 mmscmd of output—can be disallowed.
The New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP), under which RIL had won the KG-D6 block in the first bid round in 2000, allows operators to recover 100% expenditure on exploration and production before sharing profits from the field with the government. It does not link cost-recovery to output.