Oil company activity scrutinised by RAW

Vol 3, PW 18 (29 Sep 99) People & Policy

The Hydrocarbon Monitoring Group (HMG) is based in RAW's main headquarters on the Lodhi Estate in New Delhi.

The cell has dedicated operatives active in Bombay, Ahmedabad, Guwahati and Delhi and also receives support from RAW's main offices in the country's oil and gas producing areas. The HMG is the brainchild of former RAW chief, Arvind Dave, who is presently governor of the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

The HMG is headed by an officer of the rank of Deputy Secretary, equivalent to a Deputy Inspector General (DIG) in the police. The HMG is actively monitoring deals signed between foreign oil companies and Indian public sector oil companies.

Its brief is three fold:- 1) To maintain a vigil on corruption. Foreign multinationals are seen as moneybags, capable of buying off officials and subverting national interests.

2) To run a counter-intelligence operation on oil multinationals or their agents operating in India who are suspected of trying to steal India's hydrocarbon secrets. Five years ago, an ONGC research division official (Jayanta Sahoo) was sacked when it was discovered he was selling secrets on Tripura's hydrocarbon potential to a Bangladeshi diplomat-turned-spy.

3) To watch the relationships between political parties and influential Indian business groups acting for foreign oil companies. Foreign multinationals are seen as potential source of funds by political parties who grant favours that may be seen as "subverting the national interest".