Another gas battle between Delhi and Gujarat

Vol 16, PW 13 (24 Jan 13) People & Policy

Oil ministry bureaucrats are preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court of India against a Gujarat High Court order directing them to increase domestic gas supplies to Ahmedabad.

PETROWATCH learns the ministry is preparing a draft Special Leave Petition (SLP) ready by end-January appealing against the Gujarat High Court order issued on July 25 last year. According to the ministry, the Gujarat High Court exceeded its jurisdiction by interfering in gas allocations.

“Gas allocations come under the jurisdiction of the executive, not the judiciary,” we hear. “This is a policy matter which the government alone can decide.

” Delhi was pushed to act by a more recent contempt order from the Gujarat High Court this month (January 10) against the ministry for not complying with its July 25 order. Why did the ministry sit idle for six months “We were preparing a SLP,” adds a source.

“These things take time, other departments and ministries must be consulted.” Last year the environmental non-profit Dhrangadhra Prakruti Mandal filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the oil ministry in the Gujarat High Court.

Dhrangadhra accuses the Congress-led central government of favouring Delhi and Mumbai in gas allocations over BJP-ruled Gujarat, pointing out that CNG sells in Delhi at Rs40/kg ($0.74) and in Mumbai at Rs34/kg ($0.63) - but in Gujarat at more than Rs50/kg ($0.93). Dhrangadhra also complains that privately-owned Adani Gas has been denied 50,000 cm/d of APM gas it was allocated for Ahmedabad.

In response, the Gujarat High Court directed the ministry to supply more subsidised gas to Ahmedabad so CNG prices could match Delhi and Mumbai.