New Delhi: Taking note of a CAG report on the KG basin gas blocks in which around Rs.19,576 crore was invested by the then Gujarat government led by Narendra Modi, the Congress on Tuesday sought a JPC probe into the matter.
There was no 'commercial production' in the gas blocks, said the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) and also questioned the project's "financial viability".
The report was tabled in the Gujarat assembly on March 31.
"Narendra Modi must own responsibility for this gross loss to the exchequer, running into nearly Rs.20,000 crore. He must be held accountable by the same standard he applies to others and submit himself to a probe by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), based on the CAG findings," said Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma.
"The prime minister can only be probed by a JPC because all the investigative agencies are under him," said Sharma, who is the deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha.
"We demand that a JPC is constituted because the prime minister cannot be examined in a free and fair manner otherwise. He is definitely not above the law of the land. He is fully accountable and we must establish this," he added.
For the Congress, the issue is going to be on its parliamentary agenda in the future, a Congress source said.
In June 2005, the then Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi announced the discovery of 20 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas by the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) in the KG basin, valued at 50 billion dollars (Rs.2,20,000 crore).
Sharma said that despite tall claims on 20 trillion TCF, not a single cubic feet of gas had been produced commercially in the basin from 2005 till date.
The CAG report said: "The audit observed that the trial production from the DDW field commenced in August 2014, but the average production achieved in March 2015 was only 19.45 MSCFD (million standard cubic feet of gas per day) (total targeted commercial production from DDW is 200 MSCFD). Commercial production has not commenced (November 2015) as production rate has not yet stabilised."
It added: "After the revision of gas pricing under the New Domestic Natural Gas Pricing Guidelines 2014, the financial viability of the project after commercial production remains doubtful as per the prevailing market scenario."
The report said that the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation invested Rs.19,576 crore in the KG basin gas blocks without any assessment of the risk involved, construction technology, estimate of natural gas reserves or gas pricing.
"The company did not address properly the risks associated with cost, technology and gas pricing. This has resulted in uncertainty regarding the future prospects from the KG block where an investment of around Rs.19,576 crore was made as of March 2015. The development costs incurred in the block also resulted in increased borrowings and stressed finances for the company," stated the CAG report.
The report said that a tender for 'platform rigs' was given to a company not qualified to design, engineer or construct a 'platform rig' as per the bid document.
"As on April 1, 2011, the GSPC owned 64 gas blocks. Between April 1, 2011, and March 31, 2015, the GSPC surrendered 45 blocks, which is 70.31 percent of all blocks owned by it. Total loss from surrender of 45 blocks to the public exchequer is Rs.2,992.72 crore.
"Out of this, the surrender of 11 'overseas blocks' (five in Egypt, three in Yemen, two in Indonesia and one in Australia) caused a loss of Rs.1,757.46 crore. Surrender of the remaining 34 'domestic blocks' caused a loss Rs.1,235.26 crore," Sharma quoted from the CAG report.
Quoting the report further, Sharma said: "The GSPC incurred an expenditure of Rs.2,319.43 crore towards the shares of the two joint venture partners, i.e., 'Geo Global' and 'Jubilant' and completely failed to recover a single penny from them. Moreover, the GSPC even failed to conduct audit of the joint venture accounts."