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CAG faults Reliance gas deal, Air India handling

New Delhi: India’s official auditor tabled two strong reports in parliament Thursday that fault the way Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries was permitted to deal with the gas discovered in the Krishna-Godavari basin and the running of Air India.

The much-awaited reports prepared by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India on the hydrocarbons production sharing contracts and civil aviation make some scathing remarks, which can embarrass the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government further.

The report says Reliance Industries violated the production-sharing contract with the government in what is called the D6 block and did not relinquish 25 percent of total contract area as required.

It also indicted the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons (DGH), the watchdog for oil and gas exploration, and said it should have stopped Reliance Industries from proceeding on the next phase of production in the light of earlier violation of the contract.

The report said the oil ministry and the directorate were ill-equipped to oversee the production-sharing contracts with private players.

In the case of Air India, the report deals with the period Nationalist Congress Party’s Praful Patel was minister for aviation, and has slammed the entire process to acquire as many as 111 aircraft as a huge waste and risky.

This apart, the use of the flag carrier’s aircraft to ferry VIPs has also been criticised, particularly in the light of delayed payments for such services. The report also wonders why Air India’s capacity utilisation of aircraft is much lower than private carriers.

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