Batra breaks ranks at PNGRB to back H-Energy

Vol 20, PW 11 (23 Feb 17) People & Policy

A damning 'dissent' note from a former PNGRB member is expected to embarrass the gas regulator in a court case over its decision to scrap a proposed pipeline promoted by Mumbai-based H-Energy.

This report learns H-Energy will submit the dissent note from former member legal SC Batra when the Apellate Tribunal for Electricity (APTEL) begins hearing arguments on March 3. Batra disagreed with a July 2016 decision by his colleagues KK Jha and Basudev Mohanty to scrap a 750-km pipeline project from Contai in West Bengal to Paradip in Orissa because H-Energy had, among other things, bid a near-zero transmission tariff.

In his two page dissent note, seen by this report, Batra argues that PNGRB regulations do not bar a company from quoting a near-zero transmission tariff and compression charge. "The process of modification of the regulations has not commenced yet," he points out.

Even if the regulations are changed, he adds, they cannot be back-dated to negate the H-Energy bid. Most damaging is Batra's allusion to a conspiracy within the PNGRB against H-Energy.

He says discussion over the bids was "deliberately delayed" to July 13, 2016 after member commercial PK Bishnoi retired. Twelve days earlier on July 1, his last working day, Bishnoi had made statements supporting H-Energy.

Batra adds authorisation should have been granted within 30 days of bid submission or by April 23, 2016 in line with PNGRB rules.