Modi upset at Anil Ambani over Jambusar delay

Vol 14, PW 25 (16 Jun 11) People & Policy

Anil Ambani’s growing troubles aren’t restricted to the 2G spectrum scam which has seen three of his senior executives locked up in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

PETROWATCH learns Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi is growing increasingly frustrated with Ambani - said to be a close personal friend - over the slow progress of a proposed 7200-MW gas-fired power station promoted by Reliance Power at Jambusar in the Bharuch district of south-central Gujarat. Modi’s ire was obvious to all who attended a state government review meeting of upcoming power projects in Gandhinagar last month.

“He (Modi) was irritated,” says a senior official present at the meeting. “There’s almost no progress to show at Jambusar.

It’s been nearly a year since Modi gave his ‘in principle’ approval.” Modi gave the $5.5bn Jambusar power project his special blessing and approval on May 31, 2010.

“Modi went out of his way to ensure Ambani got the land needed for the project in record time and without hassle,” adds our source. But Ambani seems more preoccupied nowadays with India’s ‘2G spectrum scandal’: a multi-billion dollar corruption case in the Delhi High court involving former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja, officials from the Indian arms of Norwegian telecom firm Telenor and the UAE’s Etisalat and three top Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) executives.

Reliance Power carried out an Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Jambusar station in 2010, and a public hearing to record any objections from local villagers was called on February 18, 2011. Modi even announced the Jambusar project with much fanfare at the Vibrant Gujarat investment summit held in Gandhinagar this January and was expecting physical work on the ground to begin this month (June).

Yet there’s precious little to report since then and Modi, we hear, is likely to convey his displeasure personally to Anil Ambani when they next meet.