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‘Gas is not private property of Ambanis’

Rejecting the Ambani family agreement on the distribution of gas being produced in the Krishna Godavari fields, the government said a private pact could not be allowed to threaten national interests.

business Updated: Jul 18, 2009 00:52 IST
Anupama Airy

Rejecting the Ambani family agreement on the distribution of gas being produced in the Krishna Godavari fields, the government said a private pact could not be allowed to threaten national interests.

In an affidavit filed by the petroleum ministry in the Supreme Court on Friday, the government made it clear that the gas being produced by Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) “is not the private property of either RIL (controlled by Mukesh Ambani) or RNRL (controlled by Anil Ambani)”.

The affidavit also said “any understanding arrived between them (Ambani brothers) is not binding upon the government.”

The gas is a “national asset” which vests with the government, the affidavit said. Hence, RIL and RNRL cannot settle between themselves as to how the gas is to be distributed. “The government is the owner of gas,” the affidavit said. “The government has a paramount and dominant role to play.”

Asking the apex court to “set aside” the June 15 judgment of the Bombay High Court, the government said it would be the gas utilisation policy that would prevail over any private arrangements between the two brothers. Speaking to HT, the joint counsel of the government, Tejinder Singh Doabia said, the government has also challenged the High Court judgment which would lead to dual pricing of gas.

“The dual pricing will benefit a private entrepreneur (at a price of $2.34 per unit) but will be costlier to the public sector companies using it (at $4.34 per unit),” he said.

Doabia denied reports that the petroleum ministry has asked the Supreme Court to make it a respondent in the ongoing gas supply dispute to safeguard its interests.