Modi at his vitriolic best against gas regulation plans

Vol 10, PW 20 (08 Feb 07) Midstream & Downstream

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has launched an unprecedented attack on plans by Delhi to regulate the gas sector with the creation of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board.

Modi was addressing the inauguration on 9th January of the newly laid and long-awaited 240-km 30-inch diameter gas pipeline that links Ahmedabad to Morbi, India’s ceramic manufacturing hub, which accounts for around 90% of national production. In a direct attack on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Modi said (to loud applause from his audience) that Gujarat should not be forced to seek permission from the new gas regulator each time it wants to lay a pipeline.

Speaking in the Gujarati language, he said: “Is Dr Manmohan Singh left with no other important job than to decide which by lane of Morbi should have a pipeline Or what the diameter of the pipeline should beâ€‌ Modi accused Delhi of harassing Gujarat because it is the only state in India that “has stood up to GAILâ€‌ by planning to build a 2200-km gas grid. He said Gujarat State Petronet has already completed 950-km of the grid but that the new gas regulator (whoever he is and whenever he is appointed) is unlikely to give Gujarat priority and that this would delay the grid’s completion and stifle economic growth in Gujarat.

Not content with attacking the soon-to-be appointed gas regulator, Modi went on to attack Delhi’s campaign to discredit the Gujarat Gas (Regulation of Transmission, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2001, which was framed by the state government and would have given it control of the state’s gas sector independent of Delhi. On 25th March 2004, the Supreme Court in Delhi ordered Gujarat to scrap the Act, which it deemed unconstitutional.

“I will fight against this injustice till my last breath,â€‌ said Modi to loud cheers.