• Gehlot hits out at Pradhan, Raje over ‘half truths’ on refinery, says 4-yr-delay led to massive loss

    By delaying the Barmer refinery project by four years, the state has suffered revenue loss, job loss and business loss, which together combined is much more than ?40,000 crore that the BJP government in Rajasthan claims to have saved by inking a fresh deal with HPCL, former chief minister Ashok Gehlot said Wednesday.

    The Congress leader also accused Union Minister for Petroleum Dharmendra Pradhan of speaking half truths and asked him to get the two memorandums of understanding (MoUs) – one signed during Gehlot’s tenure and the other by Vasundhara Raje government — probed.

    “The Union minister was here to announce the revised MoU, but he did not explain how ?40,000 crore was saved. He did not mention when the project will start making profits. The Union minister should have made the contents of the MoU public. What was stated Tuesday by Pradhan and CM Raje had no facts,” Gehlot said during a press conference at his residence.

    Rajasthan government and HPCL Tuesday inked a revised MoU of Rs 43,129 crore for setting up the refinery in Barmer district, which will produce BS-VI-compliant fuel. Under the new terms and conditions, the refinery cost has come down to Rs 16,845 crore, which was Rs 56,040 crore in the previous MoU done by the Congress government in 2013, Pradhan had said.

    “The project was delayed by four years resulting in revenue loss for state and delay in employment generation. It also delayed setting up of ancillary units and related businesses. Gujarat earned ?1,500 crore in VAT every year due to this delay. This loss combined together is much more than ?40,000 crore that state claims to have saved,” Gehlot said.

    He said the BJP government was “forced” to start the refinery project keeping in mind the state polls in 2018 and added “people will not forgive them for the crime”.

    He said Raje had questioned why state had only 26% equity share in the original MoU. Even the revised MoU has fixed state’s equity at 26%, he said.

    “The state share has not increased, rather refinery cost has escalated by ?6,000 crore. From the revised MoU it is unclear what the Internal Rate of Return (IRR) will be. When we inked the MoU, RRI was 15%. If the RRI is less in the revised MoU, then the state will earn less profit,” he said.

    He further said that “instead of misleading people by presenting partial facts, the union minister should direct the HPCL to get the both MoUs investigated to let the truth come out”.

    Gehlot said, the original MoU had put a condition that to avail ?3,736 crore interest free loan every year for 15 years, the joint venture company — HPCL Rajasthan Refinery Limited — would have to maintain the commercial production of at least 9 million metric tonne (MMT) per annum. In case of less production, the quantum of loan was to be reduced proportionately, he added.

    Hitting out Raje, the former chief minister said, “She was never interested in the refinery project. We had asked Cairn India in 2003 to set up the refinery and even initiated talks with the ONGC. However, Raje didn’t take it up after coming to power in 2004.” Magnus Paajarvi Womens Jersey

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