CAG attacks sloppy PEL/PML process in Gujarat

Vol 23, PW 5 (16 Jan 20) Exploration & Production

Inefficient indeed is a government department which grants permission to drill at blocks ten years after drilling has already begun! This is just one of the eye-watering criticisms against the Energy and Petrochemicals Department (EPD) in Gujarat to emerge from a 130-page report by audit watchdog Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) tabled in the Gujarat assembly on December 11, 2019 and seen by this report.

Under fire, the EPD stands accused of a haphazard approach to issuing Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) and Petroleum Mining Licences (PMLs). "The EPD does not have any laid down procedures for (the) grant of PELs or PMLs in the form of a GR (Government Resolution) or a circular or government guidelines," says CAG.

Worse, CAG alleges the EPD does not even have a register to keep track of applications for permission to drill nor a register to keep track of licences granted. Instead the details are kept on excel sheets.

"These sheets were not authenticated or submitted to any higher authorities for periodic verification," adds the report. Shockingly, CAG alludes to four cases where licenses were granted 10 years after drilling had begun and 12 where licenses were issued between six to ten years after drilling started, without giving further details.

In five cases, "the effective licence date was earlier than the date of application" possibly because companies started drilling before applying for a PEL.