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Overseeing The Wholesale Plunder Of India





In his quest for absolute power, India’s Narendra Modi has systematically laid the foundations of an authoritarian state by undermining every single leader even within his own BJP, and by ruthlessly crushing any dissent.

That is why India has been witness to the dastardly “suppression by stealth” of the media, civil society, academics, students, and obviously the political opposition.

Concurrently, Modi has undertaken a Gobblesian propaganda campaign to obfuscate/embellish his past and present, presumably to establish himself as a saintly and spiritual figure.

One such sordid tale that this Gobblesian campaign seeks to suppress is the Krishna Godavari-Basin (KG-Basin) scam.

In 2005, then Chief Minister Modi abruptly announced that the Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) had discovered 20 trillion cubic feet of gas in KG Basin (that the BJP promptly renamed the Deendayal West area block), which would generate revenue worth US $40 billion for India!

Everyone (including the state and central administrations as well as subject experts) was astonished at this fantastic claim. If true, such a find would have made India energy self-sufficient, a must for any country aspiring for super power status. Modi’s announcement therefore generated euphoric excitement and even shifted the narrative from him being the alleged mastermind of the 2002 anti-Muslim massacres (carried out under his aegis while chief minister of Gujarat) to a potential prime ministerial candidate.

In fact, given how events unfolded, it is abundantly clear that the announcement (like everything else PM Modi does) was just another exaggerated publicity stunt.

Four years after CM Modi made the announcement, GSPC’s “Field Development report” pointed out that less than 10 per cent of what was claimed was actually available and that it would be commercially unviable to drill for so little gas, or sell it at the prevailing market rate. Unfortunately for GSPC, they didn’t know (as India is painfully realising now) that Modi pays heed exclusively to his own munn ki baat (mental meanderings)!

He thus ignored the field report, and forced GSPC to go ahead with the project. Because of this, GSPC borrowed nearly US $4 billion from 15 different public and private sector banks.

And what does India have in return?


Almost a dozen years later, as of May 2016, GSPC’s KG Basin block has not even started commercial production. In fact, as per GSPC’s own annual reports, after 2005 its gas reserves have consistently declined.

But the issue is not just about Modi’s gaseous exaggerations. It is also about diversion of public funds and corruption. After coercing GSPC to go ahead with drilling in KG basin, CM Modi forced it to partner with a company named Geo Global.

Now here’s the interesting bit.

Geo Global was incorporated just six days before the agreement with GSPC. At the time of entering into the agreement with GSPC, Geo Global’s capital was reportedly a measly US $ 60. Yes, sixty dollars! A week after the agreement, its capital mushroomed to US $ 200 million.

Similarly, GSPC was reportedly forced to dole out contracts for complex extraction rigs and platforms to Tuff Drilling. Tuff Drilling’s promoter was primarily in the apparel business before landing GSPC’s contract and had no prior experience in gas extraction. Since then, CM Modi forced GSPC to disburse over US $100 million to similar dubious companies!

Given that GSPC has not produced any gas from the KG-basin, where did the $40 billion vanish? Assuming $10 billion was spent on purchasing and setting up equipment (even if this went to dubious companies), that still leaves $30 billion missing.

Was this public money diverted to fund Modi’s extravagant 2014 election campaign? Does this not merit an independent high level judicial probe? And even more interestingly, when the screws were tightened on Vijay Mallya for defaulting on $2 billion, why is GSPC not being subject to similar treatment? Why is it that instead, its Managing Director was rewarded with an appointment as the Director of the National Informatics Centre?

However, desperately the BJP may sycophantically defend PM Modi, the bitter reality is that under him corruption was rampant in Gujarat.

Consider how he gave 250 acres of land (in a restricted wildlife zone) to cronies of the current CM of Gujarat for less than $ 300 million.

Similarly, CM Modi gave public land for the Mundra SEZ, which was worth $ 30  per square metre for a pittance … between half a cent to 60 cents per sq metre.

That is why for years, the CAG was deliberately denied access to numerous files in Gujarat. And that is also why under Modi, a Lokayukta was not appointed for 10 years.

In his avatar as Prime Ministerial candidate, Modi had famously argued “main na khata hoon, na khaane deta hoon” - “I neither take a bribe nor do I give one.”

It seems the truth is different.

[Courtesy: The Indian Express. Edited for]

May 12, 2016

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