Monday, November 29, 1999

Ambani gas talks: a week gone, ice yet to break

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New Delhi, May 16 -- Not much has been heard from the camps of the warring Ambani brothers-Mukesh and Anil-after the Supreme Court delivered its judgement on their contentious gas dispute on May 7.But both sides are holding legal consultations, sources close to the industrial family said.Government sources say they may be waiting for the next meeting of the empowered Group of Ministers (eGoM) headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to give a cue. They said Anil Ambani had raised the eGoM issue during his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after the judgement."The eGoM on gas pricing will have to meet and decide on the quantum of gas to be given for the new gas-based power plants which would also include Anil Ambani's power projects to which gas is to be supplied," said a senior government lawyer engaged in the Ambani dispute. The brothers have six weeks to settle.If not, they must approach the company bench in the Mumbai High Court for further directions. The eGoM could set the ground as there appears to be little room for consultations after the Supreme Court made it clear that the government was the sole owner of gas and had the freedom and authority to fix its price.RIL did not respond to questions from HT, while the spokesperson of the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group declined to comment. "The Ambani brothers can still begin their discussions and settle other terms keeping their discussions subject to the quantum of gas allocated by the eGoM for new power projects," said the government lawyer.

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