Congress accuses Centre of compromising ONGC’s interests

New Delhi: Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari on Tuesday made serious allegations against the Central government for interfering in the working of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and converting it into a debt-ridden entity.

Quoting a letter written by the trade union body of ONGC, Tiwari said, “On 4th September 2018, the trade union body of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Employees Mazdoor Sabha (EMS) wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, listing out in great details as to how a cash-rich company, in a span of 52 months, has been converted into a completely debt-ridden entity. The ONGC is intrinsically connected with India’s energy security and it has played a sterling role, ever since its inception in ensuring that upstream drilling and exploration of oil and natural gas is optimised for the benefit of people of India.”

Congress further claimed that the reason behind ONGC finances toppling in 52 months, has also to do with the then Gujarat government’s decision taken in the year 2005.

“On 26th June 2015, the then chief minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi made an announcement stating that the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation has discovered 20 trillion cubic feet of gas valued at over Rs 2, 20,000. It was claimed that it was the largest natural gas discovery to have been made in Independent India. By 2007, it was said that commercial exploration of the gas field would start. Over a period of 10 long years between 2005 and 2015, GSPC spent close to 19,700 crores to discover gas in that oilfield but found no commercially exploitable gas. Later, these gas fields in Krishna-Godavari basin was forcibly hawked to ONGC for 8000 crores,” Tiwari said.

He further claimed that ONGC was further compelled to buy a stake in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), something which further enhanced its debt.

“Later ONGC was compelled to buy 51.11 % of the government equity in HPCL because there was a deficit in the budget which needed to be made up. As a result of all this, ONGC’s debt which was 55,619 crores in the financial year 2017, but by 2018, it had risen to 1,11,533 crores. In a span of one year, the debt burden on ONGC went up by 100%,” said Tiwari.

The trade union body of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Employees Mazdoor Sabha (EMS) had written a four-page long letter addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticising various steps taken by the Central government.