The trial court had on 19th July said that the CBI’s plea to summon Anil Ambani, Tina and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case
Reliance Telecom (RTL) today moved the Supreme Court challenging trial court’s order summoning Reliance ADAG chairman Anil Ambani and his wife Tina Ambani as prosecution witnesses in 2G spectrum allocation scam case.
A bench headed by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, before whom the matter was mentioned for an urgent hearing, agreed to hear the case and posted it for 24th July, before an “appropriate bench.”
Reliance Telecom, facing trial in the case, moved the Supreme Court against the trial court’s order as the apex court had earlier restrained all other courts, including the high court, from entertaining any plea arising out of 2G scam case.
The trial court had on 19th July, allowed the CBI’s plea that the testimony of Anil Ambani and Tina Ambani may throw light on alleged investment of over Rs990 crore by his group companies in Swan Telecom, facing trial in the case along with its promoters Shahid Usman Balwa and Vinod Goenka.
It had said CBI’s plea to summon Anil Ambani, Tina and 11 others as prosecution witnesses was essential for arriving at a just decision in the case.
Testimony of Anil and Tina is required to prove the facts “pertaining to incorporation of shell companies as some of the witnesses examined earlier have not been able to do so,” it had said.
The court had dismissed the contentions of the counsel for the accused persons that CBI’s plea “suffers from the vice of delay” saying the process of examination of prosecution witnesses is still underway.
RADAG’s group company RTL is an accused in the case.
Three top Reliance ADAG executives—Gautam Doshi, Surendra Pipara and Hari Nair—are also facing trial in the case.
The agency had alleged RTL used Swan Telecom, an ineligible firm, as its front company to get 2G licenses and the costly radio waves.
In direct contrast to the speed at which private enterprise works, the Tamil Nadu government has suddenly decided to clamp down the work carried out by Great Eastern Energy Corporation in the state since 2010
There is always a big difference between private enterprise which is motivated by profit but that still serves peoples’ needs, as against political actions that show great concern for public reaction which may actually camouflage political motives and lethargy.
Take Reliance Industries’ (RIL) coal bed methane gas plant at Shogapur block in Madhya Pradesh. RIL envisages a production of 3.5 mmscmd (million metric standard cubic metres of gas) of methane gas from 2015 and to show its seriousness, the company has even given a performance guarantee for Rs13 crore. It expects to commission the plant by 2015. We should not be surprised, if RIL starts earlier, unless some stumbling blocks are created en route!
This 312 km pipeline will transport CBM from Shogapur in MP to Pulpur in UP, which has a designed capacity to carry 4.3 mmscmd.
The work is being carried out by Reliance Gas Transportation Infrastructure, a subsidiary of RIL, and necessary approvals have been obtained from the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB).
Later on, should the situation warrant, this gas pipeline can be hooked into GAIL’s main trunk line. As we can notice now, the work has been planned well in advance so that no time is lost when CBM is produced, which can be supplied to customers. It would follow that the gas allocation will presumably come from the ministry.
In direct contrast to the speed at which private enterprise works, the Tamil Nadu government has suddenly decided to clamp down the work that has been going on since 2010 in the state, being carried out by Great Eastern Energy Corporation (GEECL).
GEECL is the first company in India to commercially produce natural gas from coal beds in West Bengal, which has drilled 150 wells so far, without any problems.
GEECL has received a licence to explore coal bed methane (CBM) in 691square km in Tanjore and Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. In 2011, the DMK led state government in Tamil Nadu issued a four year licence to GEECL and entered into an agreement, based on the production sharing agreement signed with the company by the central government.
Subsequently, as the work progressed, some farmers had expressed concern about ground water contamination, environment pollution, apart from water depletion in the area.
Although the ministry of environment and forests gave conditional clearance in September 2012, the present chief minister, Jayalalithaa, has now stopped the work till an expert committee, appointed by the Tamil Nadu government clears the same, and obtain the approval from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board.
So, the work has come to a stand-still and the report of the expert committee is expected in 90 days.
The question is that this issue of exploring CBM has been going on since 2010, with various formalities and compliance of procedures must have been in place since then by GEECL. Now, for the chief minister to claim that the farmers’ concerns have not been fully addressed is a late lame excuse? Was not the Tamil Nadu Pollution Board aware of the licence issued by the previous DMK government? What was it doing since September 2012 when the MOEF gave GEECL conditional approval? Conditional approvals are stumbling blocks that delay project work. What were they, anyway?
Did the Tamil Nadu government directly seek clarification from GEECL on the issues that it is asking now to clarify? Or is the TN government raising these issues after so many years just because the project had received clearance from the previous government with which the present government is always at loggerheads? If it raised the issue with GEECL, what was the contractor’s response?
Is it interested in the welfare of the people in the state or is it more concerned about the opposition party getting the benefit, should substantial CBM gas is struck in the area?
Of course, matters relating to farmers concerns need to be addressed and corrective steps taken to project the interest and environment, but success for obtaining such gas for the benefit of the power starved nation is just as important.
It would be in the interest of the public to know the actual position from both the Tamil Nadu government and the explorer, GEECL!
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US.)
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