Naik wants final say on matters of dispute

Vol 5, PW 16 (26 Sep 01) People & Policy

Bizarre as it may sound, we learn the oil ministry is seriously planning a role for itself as 'Super Regulator' after deregulation.

Or so it seems from a parliamentary reply on 30th August by oil minister Ram Naik. "Appeals lie against the decisions of the (regulatory) board with the ministry of petroleum and natural gas." Naik's statement contradicts a note prepared for the cabinet by joint secretary Shivraj Singh, where aggrieved parties are told to address their grievances to the judiciary, not the oil ministry.

"Any person aggrieved by any decision or order of the regulatory authority may file an appeal to the High Court," it reads. Contradictions aside, Naik said the proposed downstream regulatory board would have five members - including a government-appointed chairman.

Each would hold office for a period of five years or till the age of 65, whichever is earlier. Among the board's powers are: Protection of consumer interests on price, quality and availability of petroleum products Adjudication of disputes relating to tariffs, matters affecting consumer interest and consumer service Monitoring compliance of technical, safety and environmental standards with the assistance of concerned authorities Regulating and monitoring access and determination of tariffs of common usage pipelines and associated facilities Imposing penalties for contravention and defiance of its orders and directions Implementation of government decisions pertaining to the downstream petroleum sector