Domestic crude production significantly down now: Congress


Modi has accused previous govts of being dependent on imported crude that ‘burdens’ middle class

Days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused previous governments of being dependent on imported crude that “burdens” the middle class, the Congress on Friday hit back by alleging that domestic crude production under his government had fallen substantially from its level during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime.

On Wednesday, inaugurating some energy projects in poll-bound Tamil Nadu, the Prime Minister said the middle class wouldn’t have been burdened if previous governments emphasised on meeting the country’s requirements through domestic production.

Taking a dig at Mr. Modi’s andolan jeevi [professional agitator] comment, the Congress termed the Modi government indhan-tax jeevi [surviving on fuel taxes] and the BJP Bhayankar Janloot Party

At a press conference at the party headquarters, its general secretary Randeep Surjewala and spokesperson Gourav Vallabh said the domestic production of crude oil had fallen by as much as 53.66 lakh metric tonnes in the past six years of the Modi government.

Budget for ONGC cut

The government had not only been consistently reducing the budget for Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), one of the main producers of oil and gas, but also “forced” the public sector enterprise (PSE) to buy the loss-making Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC), the Congress said.

“During the tenure of the Congress-UPA, the domestic crude used to meet 23.4 % of the total consumption. Between 2014 and 2020, the domestic production has come down to meet only 15.8 %. The reality is that gas production in 2020 is at its lowest in the past 18 years. Will the Modi government tell us the reason for this,” asked Mr. Surjewala.

ONGC’s exploration budget in the past six years had come down from ₹11,687 crore (2014) to ₹4,330 crore (2020). The PSE’s overall budget too had been cut from ₹32,501 crore last year to ₹29,800 crore in the current one, he stated.

The Congress accused the government of earning over ₹21.5 lakh crore as taxes on petroleum products.

Mr. Surjewala noted that when the National Democratic Alliance came to power on May 26, 2014, the international crude price was $108 a barrel but the petrol price was ₹ 71.51 a litre.

“Today, that is 19th February 2021, the crude price is $ 63.65 a barrel and the petrol price ₹90.19. So the price of crude is 41 % down, but the petrol price is up by 26 %,” he added.

Mr. Vallabh said, “We demand an immediate rollback of all these hikes. These are not just hikes but ‘sinful activities’ against the public.”

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