Skip to main content

Gujarat's Panama Papers link? State-owned GSPC had "links" with controversial companies investigated by ICIJ

Subir Ghosh
By Rajiv Shah
In a new book, Subir Ghosh, Bangalore-based journalist, researcher and writer, quoting an ex-Government of India bureaucrat, has alleged that the former bluechip state public sector undertaking (PSU) Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) has had links with a company that was associated with dubious business concerns mentioned in the infamous Panama Papers.
Titled “Grand Illusion: The GSPC Disaster and the Gujarat Model”, the book’s writer is a co-author of the controversial “Gas Wars: Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis”, which has invited Rs 100 crore defamation suit from the Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The book was released in Ahmedabad on Thursday.
Published by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, another co-author of “Gas Wars”, the book quotes former economic affairs secretary EAS Sarma as writing to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) “bringing in the Panama Papers angle”, says Ghosh, after the ED did not respond to an earlier plea to investigate into GSPC’s alliance with a private company, of which a former Gujarat minister known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi was a “beneficiary.”
Sarma is quoted as saying, “I find more distressing facts about the Gujarat Natural Resources Ltd (GNRL). It was operating through six subsidiaries which include Heramec, Gorlas, Sigma Oil & Gas & Alkor Petro and Overseas.”
The book says, the GNRL, contrary to its misleading name, is a private limited company and not a state enterprise. Saurabh Patel, a former minister overseeing GSPC, was a “beneficiary investor in GNRL.” Patel, fighting Gujarat state assembly polls from Vadodara and a BJP chief ministerial aspirant, was mysteriously removed as state energy minister after Vijay Rupani took over the state’s reins of power last year.
Book further quotes Sarma as saying, “Both Heramec and Gorlas figure on the website of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and Panama Papers, as evident from the enclosed snapshot pictures of that website.” The book, however, does not provide the “enclosed shapshots”.
Sarma continued, “It is surprising that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas (MoPNG) should assign eight oil blocks to [the] GSPC knowing well that Heramec is a 30% partner in Kanawara, North Kathana, Allora, Unawa, North Balol and a partner with Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) in CB-ONN-2004/1, CB-ONN-2004/4 (see pages 71 and 72 of the enclosed GNRL annual report for 2015–16).”
Sarma underlined, “Assignment of such a large number of hydrocarbon blocks to GSPC/GNRL consortium was in itself highly questionable. [The] MoPNG should be asked to explain the circumstances that compelled it to allot these blocks to the Gujarat consortium.”
He added, “In turn, it is distressing as to how [the] GSPC, a state PSU, under the administrative control of Saurabh Patel, the minister, joined hands with such a highly questionable company, namely GNRL, and its subsidiaries and exposed itself to an enormous risk, which in turn got indirectly transmitted to MoPNG, knowing well that GNRL was only a family concern of the minister.”
The accusation comes amidst indications emerging that GSPC, which has reportedly gone bankrupt, is being bailed out by a Central PSU, the largest oil and gas producer, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), which has completed a Rs 7,738 crore acquisition of 80% stake in GSPC.
An earlier letter by Sarma to ED had said, “The annual report of GNRL shows how GSPC had allowed that company to have a share in several oil blocks it won in competitive bidding. GNRL was partly owned by Saurabh Patel, the minister in charge of the department in Gujarat.”
Sarma had added, “These findings raise very serious concerns about the way Saurabh Patel had a free hand in the then Modi government of Gujarat and how valuable oil blocks that belong to the people of India were bartered away to foreign nationals of questionable credentials.”

Comments

TRENDING

Allow international human rights observers, media to access Kashmir: US lawmakers

Counterview Desk
In a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, two members of the American Congress, Pramila Jayapal and James McGovern, raising "significant concerns" about what they call "humanitarian and human rights crisis in Jammu & Kashmir”, quoting "credible reports" from journalists and advocates on the ground" have said that "the Indian government has detained thousands of people with no recourse, imposed de facto curfews on residents' and cut off internet and telephone access in the region.”

TN woman's No Caste, No Religion struggle 'follows' ideals of Marx, Ambedkar, Periyar

By Sheshu Babu*
In these days of rising communal tensions, a courageous woman from Tamil Nadu achieved her dream of obtaining 'No Caste, No Religion' certificate through persistent struggle. This is quite a significant achievement. It comes alongside some colleges in West Bengal introducing 'humanity', 'agnostic' , 'secular' or 'non-religious' in the application forms for online submission for students who are unwilling to disclose their faith.

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.

US Kashmiri diaspora body: World leaders, UN 'not acting', India enjoys total impunity

Counterview Desk
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly session, to begin on September 17 in New York, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fai, secretary-general of the World Kashmir Awareness Forum, a non-profit organization based in Ohio, US, claiming to focus on providing information on Kashmir, has regretted that despite "violent" behaviour of Indian authorities in Kashmir, they enjoy "total impunity" across the world.

Modi used to 'run errands' during Emergency, his role was that much: Top JP associate

By Rajiv Shah
In a sharp exposure, well-known Gujarati critic, journalist and activist Prakash N Shah, who had been among the main contact persons of Jay Prakash Narayan (JP) in Gujarat, has recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was “merely running errands” during the Emergency (1975-77) period, adding the PM’s stature has been “sought to be unnecessarily inflated”, though adding, he is not saying this to “belittle him.”

Jharkhand riverine terminal: 485 families 'displaced', lose land, livelihood in Sahibgunj

Counterview Desk
Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposes to inaugurate on Thursday India’s second riverine Multi-Modal terminal (MMT) at Sahibganj in Jharkhand, built at a cost of Rs 290 crore reportedly in a record time of about two years, several civil rights organizations* have said that the government has failed to address the high-profile terminal’s social and environmental concerns.

Now clampdown on rally, arrest of pro-freedom activists in Pak-occupied Kashmir

Counterview Desk
In a fresh evidence, international human rights organizations are not just confining their attention on the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), whose special status was taken away by the Government of India in early August, leading to an unprecedented clampdown on the region. They have simultaneously begun focusing on the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK), where the situation is said to be worsening.
Thus, the International Human Rights Council ((IHRC) Hong Kong (HK), a top human rights organisation, said to be working towards to the promotion peace, equality, fundamental rights and social justice “as enunciated in the UN Human Rights Charter and other instruments of human rights”, has noted now a new wave of independence movement has struck PoK.  With offices in US, UK, Switzerland and Hong Kong, and having Kirity Roy and Lenin Raghuvanshi as IHRC office bearers from India, in a statement, it has claimed that on September 7 one of the biggest pro-Independenc…

Govt of India 'moves' to hold Assam-type foreigners' tribunals across India, warns report

Counterview Desk
A People’s Tribunal on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) has warned in its interim jury report that two recent notifications of the Government of India may lay down the groundwork for triggering an NRC process in different parts of the country, pointing towards recent moves towards this.

India performs 'poorly' in Quality of Life Index, ranks 62nd out of 64 countries

Counterview Desk
“Expat Insider”, which claims to be one of the world’s most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, in a survey of 20,259 participants from around the globe, has found that of the 64 destinations around the globe, has found that while Taiwan is the best destination for persons living outside their native country, closely by Vietnam and Portugal, India ranks 59th.

New sample suggests high pollution off Vadodara effluent channel, 'requires' action

Counterview Desk 
Gujarat’s top environmental group Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) has sharply criticized the Gujarat Pollution Control Board’s (GPCB’s) “on-serious, casual letter” dated September 5, which allegedly suggests that the top state state agency does not favour taking any action Central Gujarat’s effluent treatment plant, Vadodara Enviro Channel Ltd (VECL).