I request you kindly to approve this one and say `yes' for all these things.
SHRI R.L. JALAPPA : I thank the hon. Minister for his magnanimity though it is belated. In the month of July last year, the hon. Minister went on record that all the technical feasibilities were approved, but since a case was in the court, he could not give the counter guarantee.
I want to ask the hon. Minister whether any court gave a stay order restraining the company from proceeding with their project. Nobody has given the.
MR. SPEAKER: Please put your question.
SHRI R.L. JALAPPA : The "Enron" is cleared by this BJP Government in 13 days regime. It was embroiled in 24 litigations. In spite of that, that was given. Why is this stepmotherly attitude towards us? Secondly, you know what is the reaction of the American Ambassador in India. Have you come across that?
MR. SPEAKER: Please understand. Please put your question.
SHRI R.L. JALAPPA : If you cannot allow me two minutes, why should we come here?
MR. SPEAKER: After the Statement, you can ask questions only please.
SHRI R.L. JALAPPA : You know that I am not getting up to raise every question.
The US Ambassador to India, Shri Celeste said here on Tuesday that "Cogentrix has sent damaging signals to potential American investors in India." You say that we are going to new millennium in the world. Are you going to convert the Himalayas into a gold mountain with this mind set? So, I request the hon. Minister to see that this is cleared as early as possible without putting any further hurdles. We have wasted seven long years and you still call it as a fast track. . This is very bad. I request the hon.Minister to see that this is cleared immediately.
SHRI K.H. MUNIYAPPA (KOLAR): One thousand megawatt of power can solve one-sixth of the total consumption of Karnataka State. The cost at that time
was Rs.5,000 crore. Because of the negligence of the Government of India, now the cost may be double. The hon.Minister has stated in his statement that counter guarantee can be considered by the Government after receipt of the Supreme Court decision. They have already left Cogentrix people. I want to know whether you are to issue counter guarantee before they come back. The Government will come only if the counter guarantee is given.
SHRI C.K. JAFFER SHARIEF : My friend Shri S. Bangarappa has already brought all the points as he was Chief Minister of the State and he has dealt with the subject. The question arises in the statement made by the hon. Minister under the revised procedure for the issue of counter guarantee. The counter guarantee when the Government of India has committed in 1992, when the agreement was signed, is that no State Government can proceed without the support or the consent of the Government of India.
All of us have functioned in the Government and it is not something new to us. So, the Minister cannot hoodwink us. We were also part of the Government. We know how the Government functions.
Where there is a will, there is a way. If there is a will, they can find a way. Today, this Cogentrix issue is not a subject matter of only Karnataka or Karnataka's interest. One should look at the national level. One should look at what it contributes to the investment climate in the country. It is not a question of one State or the other. If the investment climate and the confidence that you create in the investors' mind are disturbed, just as it has happened in Karnataka today, it might happen in Andhra Pradesh tomorrow and in Uttar Pradesh the day after. So, I would appeal to the hon. Minister, notwithstanding any kind of inhibitions or whatever damage has been done which cannot be set right now, to build confidence in the investors and to remove their doubts and fears so that they can come in, not only in the power sector but in other areas as well, bringing in more investment to the country.
MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Minister, now you may reply.
SHRI C.K. JAFFER SHARIEF : I am appealing to the hon. Minister. ... (Interruptions) This gesture is very mischievous.
SHRI P.R. KUMARAMANGALAM : I said, you are too senior for me to stand up while you are speaking.
SHRI C.K. JAFFER SHARIEF : I would request the hon. Minister through you to assure the House that he would act in such a manner to identify the problem and find a solution and to see that the clearance is given as quickly as possible. If this is done, the confidence of the investors from overseas can be built up so that more investment can come in, not only in the area of power but in all other areas also. Karnataka has suffered very heavily because of this withdrawal by Cogentrix.
SHRI P.R. KUMARAMANGALAM: Sir, I am very grateful to the hon. Members for having called attention to this important issue in the power sector.
I must at the outset say that you cannot draw comparisons between Enron and Cogentrix for the simple reason that there was no litigation in the case of Enron where any Court held that there is a case for investigation and directed the registration of an FIR and the CBI to investigate in a case of Prevention of Corruption Act. We now have a situation where a charge was given not just with regard to taking a kickback but also with regard to shifting of the project site, with regard to sanctioning environmental clearances and with regard to almost the whole scope of the project. If we had that shadow over us, any counter-guarantee issued will be in the face of a court judgement which openly challenged every decision which was taken with regard to this project.
Today, I am happy to say that the Supreme Court has struck all of it down and vindicated the then State Government and the then Chief Ministers. I must tell Shri Bangarappa that today is a day when he can hold his head high and say, `I have been cleared by the Supreme Court of these charges. For, these charges - which is without name - sweep across all Chief Ministers including my predecessors.'
SHRI S. BANGARAPPA : You have not understood it correctly. Actually, only the MoU was signed in 1992. The agreement came up later on, in 1994. I was not the Chief Minister in 1994. This is just for your information.
SHRI P.R. KUMARAMANGALAM: I am aware of that.
It is interesting to know that I am being told, `Where there is a will, there is a way'. I agree, but it is a misfortune that there was no will and no way between 1992 and 1997. In fact, the procedure for counter-guarantee which was drawn up in those five years was so confusing and so confounding that all the counter-guarantee projects except Enron, which went through a quick, smooth, fast-track, got stuck. It is our Government - when it came last time - that took a decision that this complicated procedure is not called for. It is, after all, the State Governments which are buying the power and so the State Governments should decide how they want the PPAs.
Even today my stand is still very clear that it is the State Government which has to just execute the PPA, send us a copy and give us a certificate that it is as per the laws. That is all. And the moment that is done, the counter-guarantee is executed. I will be going to the Cabinet for the formal clearance which is always required in these matters because the Cabinet had directed me to await the judgment of the Supreme Court. That was the decision of the Government collectively. So, we are taking it up. It is my hope that I should be able to assure the hon. Members that from our side we would intimate the company some time around next week, of the decision.
Let me also make another point clear. Ultimately, it is going to be in the hands of the State Government of Karnataka to decide whether they want this Project or not. We do not have any written communication - I repeat, we do not have any written communication - either from Cogentrix or from China Light and Power. They met me and orally only informed me. They have only been doing Press Releases and Press Conferences; but no communication in writing has been given to us. So, on record, I am proceeding with the impression that they are there as promoters and taking it up.
The Government of India will take urgent steps. We were only waiting for the judgment of the Supreme Court. Now that it has come, we will proceed fast and I can assure the hon. Members from Karnataka that we are interested to see that this large Project of 1000 MW does come in to assist the State Government of Karnataka in its power-starved situation. ... (Interruptions)
SHRI S. BANGARAPPA : Sir, I want to make one last point.
MR. SPEAKER: Now, the House will take up `Zero Hour'. Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.
SHRI S. BANGARAPPA : Sir, will he do all the things within a week? He may have to tell the House. ... (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: He has already said it.
SHRI P.R. KUMARAMANGALAM: I said that we would intimate the company some time next week. Did you not hear me? ... (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Shri Bangarappa, he said it already.
Now, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.
SHRI S. BANGARAPPA : May I know from the hon. Minister whether he would do it within a week, including the clearance of the Cabinet? ... (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: Is there anything from the Minister now? He asks whether you will be able to do it within a week.
SHRI S. BANGARAPPA : He said that he would do everything within a week, including getting permission of the Cabinet, calling all the parties concerned, etc. Is that okay? ... (Interruptions)
SHRI P.R. KUMARAMANGALAM: The Government of India's stand on the counter-guarantee would be communicated within a week and there should be no problem; it comes within the policy. But the responsibility of the State Government is not mine. ... (Interruptions)
MR. SPEAKER: No. Now, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel.