India to stick to pipeline project

Himalayan News Service

New Delhi, July 28:

Indian petroleum and natural gas minister Mani Shankar Aiyar today asserted in parliament there was ‘no going back’ for India on the proposed gas pipeline from Iran. “I met the prime minister for one hour on Sunday and again on Monday. The message I got was absolutely clear, there is no going back. A schedule has been laid out and we are going by it,” Aiyar said in the Lok Sabha, “I am exactly at the same wave length as the prime minister. The decision of going ahead with the pipeline is in accordance with his direction.” Responding to an opposition outcry over prime minister’s remarks in Washington mentioning ‘risks’ in the pipeline project, Aiyar said the doubts expressed by him did not mean India was going back on the project.

“The prime minister said ‘we are in preliminary negotiations. We are terribly short of energy sources. We desperately need the supply of gas from Iran. I am realistic enough to realise there were hazards,’” Aiyar said. Turning to the opposition, he said, “You tell me whether there is not any danger involved? It does not mean that we are going back. We have to go forward and face the problems.” The minister said the joint group had discussed financial, technical, commercial and legal matters involved in the project and decided “we should have a safe and secure world class project.” Aiyar said all the issues were discussed and he did not see any problem in the proposal. “We can solve this problem,” he said. According to him, the schedule of meetings between India and Iran and India and Pakistan had been laid down till end of December and they were being maintained. The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party deputy leader in the house, VK Malhotra, again repeated prime minister’s remarks about “whether any bank or consortium would come forward” to underwrite the project. “On July 11 and 12 the India-Pakistan joint working committee met. Pakistan concluded that there should be a financial consortium to be appointed between the two countries to discuss commercial and technical problems. We have enough reserves, even Pakistan has.,” Aiyar said.

Crude production hit

NEW DELHI: Indian petroleum and natural gas minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on Thursday said the devastating fire in the Bombay High platform of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) would impact 110,000 barrels of crude production per day. In a suo motu statement in parliament on the fire that ravaged the major source of the country’s crude output, he said 70 per cent of the production was expected to be restored in a few weeks. Aiyar, who left for Mumbai after making the statement, also informed the house that ONGC had constituted an internal inquiry committee to go into the causes of the tragic accident with the help of outside experts. He added that the platform was insured for $195 million and the destroyed multipurpose support vehicle for $60 million under ON GC’s offshore package. — HNS