Itís status quo at ministries facing allegations of scam
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Other than the unexpected change of Jaipal Reddy from the petroleum ministry, the Cabinet reshuffle on Sunday also surprised by not changing the portfolio of Jayanthi Natarajan, the environment minister. The other is the record fourth appointment of a Cabinet minister to the railway ministry in a single calendar year.
However, there was no change of guard in the ministries that have faced major allegations of scam, including coal and mines. Instead, mines minister Dinsha J Patel got the rank of a Cabinet minister. Patel and Sriprakash Jaiswal, minister for coal had to face charges of mismanagement in the allocation of coal and iron ore blocks.
The mines ministry will have to steer the reworked Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Bill through Parliament in the Winter Session. The coal ministry has a messy agenda of re-allocating the blocks that have been withdrawn and work out long-term coal security for power sector companies, but the Prime Minister obviously felt they have undertaken the clean-up of their sector well. In the case of Patel, he has been promoted. Jaiswal already holds a Cabinet rank.
Reddy's replacement Veerappa Moily in the petroleum ministry will have to decide on when to start the tenth round of the allocation of exploration licenses for oil and gas fields. The restrictive conditions put in by the government, including waiver of tax holidays for the ninth round of licenses has led to sharp decline of interest among domestic and foreign investors in picking up the offers.
Just days before Reddy left, the ministry has worked out an agreement with the Reliance Industries that it can begin further investments in its offshore gas fields in the KG-D6 basin after it accepted the scope of CAG audit of its production sharing contract with the government. Moily will have to monitor the agreement.
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