Think again before joining Modi on a trip abroad

Vol 13, PW 15 (14 Jan 10) People & Policy

Oil and gas chiefs who flew to Russia with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi last October might think twice before accepting another invitation! PETROWATCH learns Shell Hazira CEO Nitin Shukla and Torrent chairman Sudhir Mehta are among seven company chiefs who have each been billed between $40,000 and $43,000 for the cost of their return flight aboard a chartered plane to Moscow, for what they thought was a free junket! GSPC organised the two-day trip, hiring a 16-seat Hawker 850-XP aircraft from the Adani Group for Rs1.38cr ($288,000).

“Obviously,â€‌ says a source, “we need to collect the money from the business representatives who came along.â€‌ But while the seven oil companies will pay most for the expensive flight, GSPC is charging standard commercial airfare prices for the government officials that went on the trip and will pay the cost of air travel for the chief minister, the chief minister’s personal assistant Amrut Patel, the chief secretary at the time D.

Rajagopalan, the principal energy department secretary at the time S. Jagadeesan, and former GSPC managing director DJ Pandian.

Their bill comes to just Rs745,468 ($15,500) each – not bad compared to what the oil and gas representatives are being asked to pay! GSPC has sent invoices to Adani, Essar, Jubilant Group and John Energy at Rs2m ($43,000) per head, which includes Rs161,202 ($3300) as registration charges for the International Energy Week (IEW) and Rs46,605 ($970) for taxi charges. Torrent, Shell and the Swan Group are being charged Rs1.9m ($39,800) only, as their Moscow offices paid registration charges.

Adani Wilmar managing director Pranav Adani, Essar executive director Jayesh Buch, Jubilant Group co-chairman Hari Bhartia and Swan Group chairman Nikhil Merchant, plus a representative from drilling contractor John Energy also flew with Modi to Moscow.