Higher price of Reliance gas will be a scam: Jethmalani

January 19th, 2009 - 9:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Jan 19 (IANS) The Anil Ambani group Monday told the Bombay High Court that allowing Reliance Industries to charge a higher tariff for gas from the Krishna-Godavari basin would mean a Rs.250-billion scam.The group, which is fighting a bitter legal battle with the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries over gas from the fields off the Andhra Pradesh coast, said state-run utility NTPC must not be asked to pay more than the agreed price of $2.34 per unit.

The group’s counsel Ram Jethmalani told the court that because of a decision taken by an empowered group of ministers, NTPC may have to pay $4.20 per unit - the likely tariff for Anil Ambani’s Reliance Natural Resources Ltd as well.

“This will be a Rs.25,000-crore (Rs.250 billion/$5 billion) scam - much larger than the Satyam scam,” Jethmalani told the court, adding that if the NTPC board agrees to pay the higher price, its members must be tried for corruption.

A division bench of the court comprising Justices J.N. Patel and K.K. Tated is hearing the case.

The court had stayed the sale of natural gas from the fields after two cases were filed against Reliance Industries over the sale price and quantity of fuel - one by the Anil Ambani Group and the other by NTPC.

Earlier, Mohan Parasaran, the additional solicitor general of India, said the gas should be available to all private and public sector firms at not less than $4.20 per unit.

This, he said, was the price suggested by the ministerial group and agreed to by the government, but the Anil Ambani Group says the government cannot overturn contracts that are solemnly entered into by parties with an executive decision.

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