Gujarat HC Issues Contempt Notice to Centre on Gas Rates
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Gujarat High Court today directed the Centre to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against it for not implementing an order to provide natural gas to the city at the rates on par with Mumbai and Delhi under administered price mechanism (APM).

"To date no special leave petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging our order dated July 25, 2012.... We direct (Centre) to file an affidavit...," division bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala said.

The direction came on a contempt petition filed by NGO Dhragadhra Prakruti Mandal, which pointed out that inspite of specific directions of High Court, central government had not complied with them, nor had it challenged them before SC.

Next hearing would be on January 17.

The court's order on supply of gas had come on a PIL filed by the Mandal, claiming that as per the Bhurelal Committee report, pollution levels in Ahmedabad city were as high as that in Delhi and Mumbai, but the Centre did not provide gas to the city under APM, unlike to Delhi and Mumbai. 

The NGO, in the present petition, said the Centre had not allocated natural gas to Ahmedabad as per the order, therefore "opponent No 1(Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas)" should be punished for contempt of court.

The petition also alleged another "blatant violation" of the court order by ONGC, which has invited bids for sale of natural gas from small/isolated and marginal field of ONGC, `Ahmedabad Asset'.

"In violation of this court's order, ONGC has set the wrong priorities for the allocation of natural gas and given Gas Based Urea fertiliser plants, LPG Plants, Power Plants... priority over City Gas Distribution (CGD) systems for domestic and transport sectors," petitioner alleged.

"This is not only an act of discrimination for Ahmedabad City with regard to allotment of natural gas, but is also discrimination between CGDs promoted by the Central PSUs and other Gujarat based CGDs," it said.

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