Gujarat Gas Act gets quiet burial in Delhi

Vol 5, PW 14 (29 Aug 01) People & Policy

This is an obituary notice for the Gujarat Gas Act, which was quietly buried in Delhi on 13th August.

Present were Gujarat chief minister Keshubhai Patel, oil minister Ram Naik, law minister Arun Jaitley and bureaucrats of varying ranks. At the same ceremony the proposed National Gas Regulatory Board got a kiss of life.

S.Vijayaraghavan, joint secretary gas in the oil ministry, recorded proceedings.

"Gujarat will keep on hold the implementation of the Gujarat Gas Regulation Act," reveals a resume of the meeting. "A Bill to set up a National Gas Regulatory Board should be prepared and introduced in the winter session of parliament." Despite the apparent ease with which Ram Naik and the oil ministry bureaucrats had their way, Gujarat fought hard.

On 2nd August, Vijay Ranchan, principal secretary (energy and petrochemicals) in the Gujarat government tried to convince oil secretary Vijayendra Kaul that Gujarat means well by drawing up its own gas law. According to Ranchan, the focus is on LNG, safety and establishing the concept of common carrier.

"GAIL can be one of the companies," he said. But Kaul was unmoved.

He asked Gujarat to give up its "confrontationist position" and move to a "cooperative stance" - and he put his foot down: "There are intra-state movements of gas. There is no question of (a) state's interference in this (and) there will be immense problem if every state decides to bring in similar regulation."