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“This Is Loot”: Congress’s Jairam Ramesh On Plan To Privatise Oil Fields

The officers union of the company has also objected to the proposal.

New Delhi:

The government’s proposal to give away the ONGC’s biggest oil and gas fields to foreign companies for output boost received sharp criticism this morning from former Union Minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh who called it “loot”.

“Soviets said Bombay High could be promising. Americans lobbied for drilling contracts. But for Indira Gandhi, self-reliance was crucial. ONGC was given the task, it did a superb job and took it further. Now, PM wants to sell these assets to foreign cos. This is loot, plain and simple (sic),” the former Union Minister wrote in a tweet.

Earlier this month, the centre urged the public sector behemoth to tie up with the private sector.  “ONGC has to explore more so that it can discover more oil and gas reserves and bring them quickly to production to raise domestic output. The government is very clear that ONGC has to do more,” Petroleum Secretary Tarun Kapoor was quoted as saying by news agency PTI. 

Reports said the government proposed to give away 60 per cent stake and operatorship of Mumbai High and Bassein & Satellite (B&S) offshore assets to international partners for raising output. 

India is 85 per cent dependent on imports to meet its oil needs, and a way to cut the high import bill is to increase domestic production, PTI reported.

However, even the officers union of the company has petitioned against the plan to Oil Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, saying the centre should empower and give the company a level-playing field.

“Handing over producing fields on a platter to the private operator will not be successful and therefore, in our opinion, should not be pursued,” the letter read. 

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