In a sign of inter-ministerial rift, the Planning Commission has expressed its displeasure to the petroleum ministry for being left out of all discussions related to oil and gas exploration blocks in the country.
In a recent letter to the petroleum ministry, Sindhushree Khullar, secretary, Planning Commission, complained that the commission was not being kept in the loop by the ministry either while holding inter-ministerial discussions at the level of the empowered committee of secretaries (ECS) or while making recommendations related to oil and blocks to the Cabinet.
“The Planning Commission is denied an opportunity to offer its views both at the ECS consultation and Cabinet note preparation stages,” Khullar told her petroleum ministry counterpart.
The ECS has a major role in deciding on matters related to the allocation of blocks under the New Exploration and Licensing Policy (NELP) and for conducting negotiations with bidders and making recommendations to the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on awarding blocks, she added.
The petroleum ministry recently completed the allocation of blocks under the ninth round of NELP. When proposals to award the blocks were put up for inter-ministerial consultations, the Planning Commission was not consulted.
“We are of the view, that in order to contribute effectively to the NELP programme, the Planning Commission needs to be involved at the ECS stage,” said Khullar. “I suggest that the ministry of petroleum and natural gas may examine this suggestion for the representation of Planning Commission in the ECS.”