Agartala, Jan 3 (PTI) The opposition CPI(M) in Tripura on Thursday opposed the Centre’s decision to allow private sector Vedanta Limited to explore oil and natural gas in the state terming it as a “ploy” to weaken public sector firms like ONGC.

Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas in a letter to Tripura Chief Secretary LK Gupta in December said, The Government of India has signed 55 revenue sharing contracts with companies who have been awarded Petroleum Exploration blocks under the first round of Hydrocarbon Exploration and Licensing Policy (HELP) and Open Acreage Licensing Policy (OALP) for exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas.

The letter added, One exploration block has been awarded to Vedanta Limited for exploration and production in the state of Tripura. Vedanta Limited is required to apply to the state government for grant of Petroleum Exploration Licenses (PELs).

The petroleum ministry has also asked Tripura to facilitate speedy clearance for smooth flow of investment in the project.

A statement issued by CPI(M) on Thursday said, The Navaratna ONGC is exploring oil and natural gas in Tripura for the last five decades. It has extracted huge quantity of gas and played a very important role in generating electricity and distributing LPG in the households of the state. Many states of the North East and neighbouring Bangladesh are being benefited from the electricity generated from Tripura.

The state unit of CPI(M) vehemently protests the central governments decision to weaken the public sector undertaking, ONGC, the statement said.

The party also appealed to the people to protest the decision.

ONGC started drilling in Tripura in 1962. The company, in a joint venture with the state government in 2012 started a gas-based power company at Palatana in Gumati district, about 60 km from here, which generates 726.6 MW power per day and caters to the north eastern states and Bangladesh.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.