Adani Group Chairman Gautam Adani has hit back against Congress leader Jairam Ramesh for alleging that his businesses received undue special treatment from the BJP-led government.
Referring to the allegations, including the recent rollback of a ₹200-crore environmental penalty on a mine project in Gujarat, Adani, in an interview with the Economic Times, said Ramesh's facts were not in order and that his remarks were made on the basis of 'political convenience'.
The Union government recently reversed a ₹200-crore penalty imposed on Adani Ports & SEZ in 2009 for allegedly damaging the environment and violating green laws in connection with the construction of a port project in Mundra in Gujarat. Adani has said there was no legal basis to the ₹200-crore fine.
"Even the last government... If they were keen and found the charges were true then why did they wait for more than nine months? When NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government came to power...they took a year to investigate the matter. They did not hurry...They are not favouring Adani," the Group's chairman told ET.
On allegations of receiving special treatment on a mine in Chhattisgarh, Adani noted that an executive order from the former environmental minister Ramesh had given the clearance to the mining project in question. He added that the mine in fact belonged to the Rajasthan government and his company was only a contractor in the project.
"Let me put the record straight... The mine is owned by the Rajasthan government," Adani told ET.
On Monday, Jairam Ramesh countered the claims made by Adani, stating, "What Adani has conveniently forgotten is that the issue now is not that he is the mine operator selected by the Rajasthan government. Adani has deliberately side-stepped the real issue: That the Chhattisgarh government has cancelled the rights that have to be settled under the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 before the mine can be developed."
Ramesh also alleged that the tribal ministry is circumventing the environmental rules set up under his tenure.
"Adani should have had the intellectual honesty to acknowledge the issue in dispute. That he is the beneficiary of Narendra Modi's largesse both as CM of Gujarat and PM of India is beyond any doubt," said Ramesh.
In the ET interview, Adani also responded to criticism over PM Narendra Modi's use of the Group's choppers during his 2013-2014 election campaign, saying, anyone was free to hire them and they weren't free.