The newly-constituted prime minister-led Cabinet Committee on Investment (CCI) on Wednesday gave the warring petroleum and defence ministries one months’ time to sort out differences over 39 oil blocks and free up investment worth $16 billion (about Rs. 88,000 crore).
The move is an attempt by the government to speed up critical infrastructure projects hit by time and cost overruns, fund shortages, environmental concerns and delays in government clearances.
The CCI, which met for the first time on Wednesday, was formed last month to fast track projects that beyond a certain threshold that are stuck in various stages of procedural and regulatory approval.
Sources said the CCI at its Wednesday meeting took up the defence ministry’s decision to declare six oil and gas blocks in the prolific Krishna Godavari basin and one in North East Coast region as “no-go” areas.
Even for the remaining 32 blocks, the defence ministry had imposed stringent conditions on the activities by companies in these blocks.
Sources said defence ministry had held back clearances for these blocks as three of them were close to the DRDO launch pads while four were just off the strategic naval base. The ministry had told the petroleum ministry that these seven blocks will continue to be no-go areas.
“There were areas where certain problems were identified and therefore the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has been tasked with responsibility of sitting down with the Ministry of Defence and resolving some of the problems which are there with regard to 39 blocks,” I&B minister Manish Tewari said.
“These problems are not specific to India and we informed the CCI that the national security and oil and gas exploration activities co-exist in other countries also,” Petroleum minister Veerappa Moily told Hindustan Times.