Dharmendra Pradhan takes charge as Oil Minister

New Delhi : Hinting at pro-poor approach in dealing with fuel and gas price hike, new Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said energy self-reliance is a pre- requisite for the country to become an economic superpower. The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas is dealing with major issues like gas pricing, auction of licenses and price revision of fuels.

Refusing to comment on any of the contentious issues like impending natural gas rate hike or the monthly diesel price increases, the Odiya strongman, who delivered stunning victory to the BJP as the in-charge of Bihar unit, instructed officials to make a detailed presentation on the critical issues facing the sector as well as pending decisions in the ministry.

“I want to study all issues in detail before I can say anything,” he told reporters here. “I fully understand the challenges of this ministry.”

Son of Debendra Pradhan, who was Minister of State in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, Pradhan said the people have a lot of “expectations” from the Narendra Modi government.

Asked if the NDA government will go ahead with the long-delayed natural gas price hike and the monthly 40-50 paisa per litre increase in diesel prices, he said, “My government is committed to working for betterment of the poor.”

Listing what it called key issues needing “attention of the new petroleum minister”, Barclays analysts said in a report on Tuesday that the new minister required to attend to the “immediate implementation of the approved and notified Rangarajan gas price formula” under which the price is likely to be almost doubled at $8.3 per unit.

Calling for expediting approvals of production projects of Reliance Industries (RIL) and Cairn India, Barclays said two other matters requiring Pradhan’s attention were quick decisions on allowing RIL to retain D-29, 30 and 31 discoveries in the eastern offshore, and on the company’s current arbitration process on the disallowance of $1.8 billion cost recovery.

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