Why was Murli Deora Removed?

Ravi  Srivastava for BeyondHeadlines

Recent expose by  Arvind Kejriwal  on 31st Oct 2012 ,where in the favors granted to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)were substantiated with supporting documents , the fact is that  all this information was  already in public domain, but Arvind presented it in a structured manner. There was a mention of Murli Deora’s removal from Petroleum Ministry for favoring Mukesh ambani for raising price of Natural Gas. In fact  there were several  reasons to remove him from MOP&NG (Ministry of Petroleum &Natural Gas) apart from his proximity to Ambani Bros to whom he was a fond “Unclejee”, much more than a Petroleum Minister . Deora was brought in MOP&NG in  Feb 2006, abruptly shunting out Mani Shankar Aiyer  the incumbent Minister, who was a stumbling block for revising Reliance‘s claim of gas price from 2.34$Mtbu to 4.2$Mtbu and corresponding capital expenditure from 2.2 Billion$ to 8.8 billion$. The decision of installing Deora vindicated very shortly .He lived up to expectations of his bosses and this decision (of raising )price was likely to benefit Reliance by more than Rs 30000 cr in following  5 yrs at the prevailing rate of Dollar. Reliance contributing a part of this booty for UPA contesting 2nd term in May 2009 is explainable and more then a circumstantial evidence.

Nation witnessed Murli Deora taking oath as Petroleum Minister in the 1st lot of cabinet Ministers in 3rd week of May 2009,   which was a generous reward for his efforts in  filling party coffers. His fortunes nosedived just after that some of his decisions proved  to be a potential source of embarrassment for the Party , he colluded with Praful Patel to get extended credit to KFA (King Fisher Airlines) from  OMCs (Oil Marketing companies) where BPCL had go to court for recovering their money   and other oil company is still struggling to recover their  Rs. 600 cr owed to KFA .

Deora’s inability to handle the strike of OSOA(Oil sector officers Association) in  Jan 2009  while Nation faced fuel outage for 3 days also exposed  him  , and  resulted in summary dismissal of more then 100 officers of oil companies , all were  later reinstated barring one. Deora and his lieutenants like secretary  R S Pandey,  Sunderesan messed up  the whole incident and finally  derecognized the OSOA .Deora literally screwed entire oil sector which was shining for more then 3 decades and lost its entire glory.

A massive fire occurred  in Jaipur depot of Indian Oil corporation in the last week of Oct 2009  where 11 people died and more Rs1000 cr  worth of property was destroyed, this accident raised serious questions on safety preparedness of OMC’s , he artificially suppressed price of Kerosene during his tenure , making huge dent on Balance sheets of OMCs ,under the excuse that this will hit poor people .The  EGOM(Empowered group of Ministers) headed by Sh Pranab Mukherjee &Deora as member approved the revised gas price for Reliance .Both Ambani Bros were up in arms on their PSC(Product sharing contract), where Hon’ble Bombay high Court ruled in favor of junior Ambani  and Senior Ambani  moved to SC , Archives of Economic Times will prove the mudslinging  between the  brothers where front page advertisements appeared exposing the misdeeds of Petroleum Ministry consecutively for 8 weeks in july Aug 2009  .It was contained with great difficulty by Deora. In july 2009 Deora   ordered then Secretary Petroleum Sunderesan to file affidavit in SC and ensure that interest of elder Brother(Mukesh Ambani) is protected. I have documentary evidence to this effect. Till such time  Government did not realize that Gas is a National Asset , first time in July 2009 Government realized that Gas is a National  Asset and became an intervener in the ongoing case of Ambani  Bros in supreme court . Finally in the  first week of May 2010 then CJI of supreme court  Sh. K G Balakrishnan  also ruled in favor of elder Ambani and coincidentally became Chairman of NHRC (National Human Rights Commission), a post of cabinet Rank Minister within one week of his retirement from supreme court .

ONGC production of crude oil could not be raised by even 1 MT in last 24 years, it is stagnant at 27MT only for all these years  , despite sinking Thousands of crores of Rupees in the mother earth. ONGC bought Imperial Energy which proved to be a dud investment Deora  was instrumental in this deal . Billions of Dollars of Foreign exchange is drained   every year for buying imported  crude  due to  incompetence ,inefficiency of ONGC

CAG draft report indicted then Director General Hydrocarbons (DGH) V.K.Sibbal. He was hand in gloves with  RIL and CBI intercepted mails from Reliance to the daughter  of Sibbal for gifting white goods and Property in Delhi, Sibbal  was shown the door in Oct 2009 and case against him is still on. Deora’s role was significant in Reliance’s  gas price revision and would surface in final report of CAG

All above collectively made Deora’s continuation in Petroleum Ministry untenable  , his brazen proximity with Ambanis proved him to be  an excess baggage for Party ,In a minor reshuffle on 19th Jan 2011, Deora was temporarily parked in Corporate Affairs Ministry and finally shown the door in July 2011, without any party responsibility. His son has been awarded a MOS position for Deora’s  long “service” to Party.

One major scam which caused his ouster is not of significant money value but exposed his incompetence and faulty Decision making .It was Rs. 225 cr Marker scam , which was exclusive  brain child of Deora and his Ministry cronies all  this looks miniscule compared to current  expose of  huge 2G, Coalgate, CWG scams but those days  i.e till 2009  while  Politician &Bureaucrat still considered to be honest this was a big scam. Actually writer lost his job from an oil company   and fighting a legal battle for his reinstatement, he was a Whistle blower who opened the lid of this scam and ever vindictive, revengeful system pounced upon him, soon after filing the CBI complaint he was removed from his office ,  his phone, fax  withdrawn and made to sit under  the stairs case, he was evicted from his company accommodation in Aug 2009 during heavy monsoon rains along with his wife and 2 young daughters.

Brief History

Government pretends to be ever vigilant towards adulteration of Kerosene in Petrol/diesel which is a major cause of high subsidies approx Rs. 40000 cr annually on Kerosene alone  , in reality Oil Pricing is a milch cow for corrupt oil company officials, transporters , Retail outlets(Petrol Pumps)and the money is channeled right up to the  Minister & Ministry .First significant effort  to curb adulteration was made by “Blue Dying” of PDS(Public Distribution system) Kerosene  in 1988. Kerosene is   currently priced @Rs13/per litre and mixing this Kerosene   with Petrol/diesel priced respectively Rs. 75&52 Per litre  makes adulteration a lucrative business. The premium increases  every time the price of Diesel/Petrol is raised. Adulteration alone is a Rs. 15000 cr Industry   Nationwide annually .

In April 2006 Government  once again decided to introduce  a New “Marker system” under the pretext of curbing adulteration.


Marker  is a chemical substance which  will be added in Kerosene,this process is called “doping “such doped Kerosene if mixed with Motor Fuels i.e Petrol/Diesel  and  the samples of fuel are checked at Petrol Pumps  some  traces of Marker will be  found ,it would conclusively prove adulteration of doped Kerosene, in such case  the Dealership would be instantly suspended/Terminated .on the face  of it the   idea was noble,  but intentions were murky .Murli Deora accompanied by his then secretary M S srinivasan , Ashok Badhwar Dealer Association leader and Sajjan Kumar, MP launched this  Marker system at Indian oil’s Bijwasan Terminal on 4th Oct 2006 with lot of fan fare and adulteration was equated with cancer  in stretched speeches


Ministry officials met at Murli Deora’s office in Mumbai in April 2006 and it was decided to award entire contract of initial value of Rs. 100 cr to M/s Authentix Ltd on a single offer basis, on 5th july 2006 then secretary ordered Indian oil corporation  to place Purchase orders within 10 days  documentary evidence available , ever willing Oil company officials complied with the instructions promptly  and placed  purchase orders worth of Rs. 100 cr on M/s SGS Ltd , the Indian agents of Authentix U.K (incidentally it was a Blacklisted company with the name Biocode abroad )in August 2006.The  true colors of scamsters became visible in Jan 2007 while Ministry issued a Gazette Notification Authorizing  SGS staff to conduct checks at Petrol Pumps thus  by passing the authority of  Oil company sales Officers (who were solely Authorized personnel  for such Inspections). Complaints were received from dealers of  extortion by SGS employees who were showing “Fail sample” and extorting money from the Petrol Pump owners. Oct 2007 witnessed second lot of orders placed by Oil Companies worth Rs 100 crs for one more year.Oil company officers approached OSOA coordinator (The writer) about this Government sponsored  racket of extortion , writer mandated  Shri Y.P.Singh Cop turned Lawyer, who filed RTI’s in Nov 2007 and procured all Purchase related information on 6th may 2008 from Indian Oil Corporation.

The fraud

The  “Secret “ Marker was procured @Rs. 13000/litre on a single offer basis without any local or global tender , No environment effects were examined, No field trials conducted , No chemical composition, specification were provided by the supplier( It was revealed later that said marker was “Carcinogenic”  in nature i.e a substance which may cause cancer in Human being) .Deora supported the Ministry officials for this novel scam from April 2006 till Jan2009 ,while entire marker was abruptly withdrawn without assigning any reason or claim of achievement  and could not be restarted till date despite several claims by Ministers.


Writer made a complaint to CBI on 12th May 2008 and  approached CVC for “whistle Blower’s  protection”instead of Protection CVC by their  letter Dt. 31.10.2008 advised that “No job related protection can be provided “the presumed reason is that why did I made my complaint public it should have been made secretly to CVC in a sealed cover, meanwhile  Sh Y.P.Singh filed a PIL in Bomaby High court on 16th june 2008, basis my complaint , Hon’ble justice Swatantar Kumar ordered two separate enquiries in his order on  23rd Oct 2008   first by CBI and another  by Vigilance of MOP&NG. CBI concluded their enquiry and vindicated my complaint in their report of August 2010 and established that there were irregularities in the purchase of Marker system.CBI also advised Ministry to  caution  Oil company Chairmen, but  no relief for whistleblower .. MOP&NG is investigating   this case   for last 4 years, but to no avail.

Measurement of success of Marker implementation was that there should be  a sharp increase in the Motor  Fuel sales which never happened and rampant adulteration is going on unabated,Tank lorries of Kerosene are directly diverted for mixing ,  the murder of Additional  Magistrate  Sh.Sonawane in Malegaon in Jan 2011 and a recent burning of one supply department official in UP are live examples .

Rs. 225 cr of hard earned Taxpayers money went down the drain with no one responsible and accountable, but this was perhaps the last Nail in the coffin of Murli deora which caused his unceremonious exit from Ministry of Petroleum in Jan 2011.

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