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Talks on India-Iran pipeline to begin by year-end: Aiyar

Sunday 7 August 2005

Staff Reporter

Roadmap with milestones laid for project

Collecting information for project structuring to finish by November-end No doubt over India’s commitment to project India breaking new ground with Pakistan, building on long-standing relationship with Iran Keen to be part of pipeline-laying consortium BPCL-KRL swap ratio may be re-examined

KOCHI: Trilateral discussions among India, Iran and Pakistan on the proposed Indo-Iranian gas pipeline are expected to begin by the year-end, Union Minister for Petroleum and Panchayati Raj Mani Shankar Aiyar has said.

The process of collecting and sharing information to enable project structuring would be concluded by the end of November, said Mr. Aiyar, who also pointed out that there was no doubt over India’s commitment to the project since Prime Minister Manhmohan Singh made a statement to this effect in the Lok Sabha. Mr. Aiyar was speaking to reporters at a press conference here on Saturday at the end of a two-day first meeting of the Council of Panchayati Raj Ministers.

A roadmap with milestones has been laid for the gas pipeline project. Trilateral discussions would be a step forward from, and would build on, the ongoing bilateral discussions between India and Iran and India and Pakistan, he said. India was breaking new ground with Pakistan and India was building on the long-standing relationship with Iran. Mr. Aiyar said that he was waiting for the new Government to take charge in Iran before he got in touch with the country’s Petroleum Minister. The change of regime in Iran would not affect the gas pipeline project, he said.

The Minister said that India would be keen to be part of the consortium that laid the pipeline for the gas project since it would give India a bigger say in the project cost and also in being part of the security for the pipeline.

LPG shortage

The Minister urged the State Government to locate those involved in the misuse of subsidised cooking gas. He said that the current shortage was largely owing to the transport strike and the annual shutdown at Kochi Refineries Ltd. The need for Kerala would be met through sourcing gas from Mangalore Refineries Ltd. Diversion of LPG was rampant and it was up to the State Government to book the culprits, he added.

KRL-BPCL merger

Mr. Aiyar said that the issue of KRL-BPCL merger would come up before the Cabinet. Certain quarters had raised objections to the share swap ratio.

The Minister did not say anything on raising the prices of petroleum products. He said that prices were constantly being monitored and that the price of crude had reached record levels last week.

He also did not say anything on the subsidy on LPG and kerosene.

The public sector oil companies had suffered loss during the current year with the Indian Oil Corporation suffering as much as Rs.500 crore loss in a month.

Mr. Aiyar said that the Union Petroleum Ministry had written to the State Governments to slash sales tax rates to decrease the burden of increasing prices on the people. It was up to the States to take a decision.

See online : The Hindu

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