The Bombay high court on Monday directed the Union government to continue regular supply of natural gas to Maharashtra observing that the decision to cut supply is contrary to the 2002 Supreme Court order which said preference should be given to priority sectors.
The Union government had decided in November to cut 20 per cent of the supply of natural gas to Maharashtra and divert it to Gujarat.
A division bench of Justices VM Kanade and MS Sonak asked the Centre to continue regular supply till January 9 for transport and domestic purpose.
The high court was hearing a petition filed by Mumbai Auto Rickshawmens’ Union challenging the November 14 circular issued by the Union ministry of petroleum and gas revising the quota of gas supplied to various states.
According to the circular, the 100 per cent supply of natural gas to Mumbai’s transport and domestic sectors would be cut to 80 per cent. To fulfill the need of the remaining 20 per cent, the city would have to import natural gas which would ultimately lead to rise in price. The 20 per cent supply cut in natural gas was to be diverted to Gujarat.
Advocate for the petitioners Ganesh Hegde pointed out a 2002 order of the Supreme Court which said that the central government, while allotting quota of gas supply, should give preference to priority sectors.
Accepting Hegde’s argument, the judges said: “In our view, the Union government circular is contrary to the judgment passed by the Supreme Court. But this issue needs to be considered in detail. We direct the Union government not to reduce supply of CNG in Maharashtra till January 9 when we will hear the petition.”
According to the petitioner, the total requirement of gas for the domestic and transport sector in the country is around 8.023 mscmd (million standard cubic metres per day). “What we get is around 6.4 mscmc. The shortfall will have to be bridged by importing gas,” Hegde said.
Sigh of relief for Maha govt
The bench said: The Union government circular is contrary to the judgment passed by the Supreme Court. But this issue needs to be considered in detail. We direct the Union government not to reduce supply of CNG in Maharashtra till January 9 when we will hear the petition.