Vikram 'Bhai' sets his sights on Cairn India

Vol 14, PW 20 (07 Apr 11) People & Policy

Cairn India has another fight on its hands, this time with parliament’s influential Standing Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas.

PETROWATCH learns V. Arun Kumar, committee chairman and Congress MP from Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh, has asked oil secretary S.

Sundareshan to look into allegations by fellow committee member and Congress MP from Jamnagar, Vikram Bhai Maadam, of irregularities in compensation payments to farmers along a stretch of Cairn’s crude export pipeline from Rajasthan. Maadam tells this report he raised his concerns during a meeting of the 31-member cross-party committee on March 24, even though it wasn’t on the agenda.

“I am taking a stand for Gujarat’s farmers,” Maadam tells our correspondent from his South Avenue government residence in central Delhi. “Weak farmers are getting paid less than powerful farmers.

Everyone should get the same.” Maadam insists Congress president Sonia Gandhi backs him in his campaign, which has forced Cairn to suspend work on the 82-km Salaya to Bhogat stretch of its 667-km km pipeline from the Mangala oilfield.

“Do you think I would take action without the support of Madam (Sonia Gandhi)” asks Maadam. “I also raised this issue with the Prime Minister.

” Maadam is lobbying hard, but his real motive is unclear. On March 15, a day after meeting Sonia Gandhi, he lambasted Cairn in a speech to parliament.

Two days later he lectured oil minister Jaipal Reddy; only hours after Reddy had met Cairn India chief executive Rahul Dhir. On March 18, Maadam claims he briefed Prime Minister Singh, before asking the parliamentary committee chairman Kumar to intervene on March 24.

Without naming him, Cairn lodged an official complaint against Maadam on March 11, blaming a “local politician in Jamnagar” for the six-month delay in pipeline completion.