Centre ready to parley with Assam over royalty: Pradhan
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 17: Minister of State (independent charge) for Petroleum and tural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan has said if important ministries like Road Transport, Power, Petroleum and Tourism put their focus on Northeastern region, then the region will get a big boost.
Talking to reporters here on Friday, Pradhan said, “Keeping this observation in mind and to boost the oil and gas sector in the Northeastern region, including Assam, the Petroleum and tural Gas Ministry has set up a high powered committee to prepare a vision document for NE hydrocarbon sector. The committee will find out more opportunities in this sector and put thrust on the development of the same. It will submit its report within 3 months.”
The minister said Prime Minister rendra Modi believes that a country like India cannot be run by sitting in New Delhi. “On the instruction of the Prime Minister, I visited the oil fields, refineries and gas stations in the State this time. The Central government wants to develop the Northeastern region as a trading hub, as the region is surrounded by several countries.”
Pradhan informed about the decision of the Central government to increase investment in all streams of hydrocarbon sector in the Northeast, increase exploration activities, expand PNG network and ensure availability of petroleum products, including LPG in the remotest corners of this region.
During his visit, Pradhan reviewed all activities in hydrocarbon sector in the Northeast in general and Assam in particular. All senior officers of MoPNG, all CMDs of PSUs under the administrative control of MoPNG and representatives of private sector companies working in the region participated in the review meet. This was for the first time that the entire top brass of oil and gas sector assembled together in the Northeast.
“In order to implement the Prime Minister’s instructions to reduce the import dependency by 10 per cent by 2022, we need to invest heavily in the region to boost production,” he said, adding, “Northeast is one of the top priority areas of the present Central government which believes that for the country’s balanced growth, the Northeast must grow at faster pace.”
On the oil royalty issue, Pradhan said, “I agree that the previous Central government had done injustice to both Assam and Gujarat on the oil royalty due to the two states. Although Gujarat later maged to settle the due oil royalty issue through legal recourse, Assam is yet to get its due royalty (Rs 10,000 crore). On this issue, the Central government will hold discussion with Dispur and find a solution.”
On the issue of companies neglecting Assam by sanctioning less amount of funds under the corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme, Pradhan said, “We have taken up the issue seriously with the companies and will tell them to sanction more funds under the CSR programme.”
He also informed that the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymers Limited (BCPL) at Lepetkata in Dibrugarh district would start its production by this year and an intertiol level skill development center catering to the needs of the oil industry will be set up in upper Assam.