The Congress on Friday demanded a Supreme Court-monitored CBI probe into alleged over-invoicing of imported electrical equipment by the Adani Group that resulted in consumers paying Rs 2 per unit more for power across the country. Congress senior spokesperson Ajay Maken demanded that the government should immediately reduce by Rs 2 per unit cost of electricity in the areas where the group companies operated. The Adani Group, however, denied the statements and reports saying these were "motivated" and brought out with "ulterior motives to create sensationalism". Maken said on February 5, 2013, the Congress-led UPA government had initiated a probe into alleged over-invoicing on import of electrical equipment by a subsidiary of the Adani Enterprises in the power sector. He said on the basis of the investigations conducted by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, a 97-page show cause notice was issued on May 25, 2014 to an Adani Group subsidiary. "The BJP government should immediately order a CBI investigation monitored by a judge of the Supreme Court into the corrupt practices of over-invoicing which in turn led to grossly inflated prices for the public," he said. "Investigating this practice is critical as the price of this equipment has a direct bearing on the price paid by the common man for electricity," Maken said, alleging that the investigations have slowed down ever since the BJP government came to power. The party spokesperson said tax avoidance and shell company-use should also be looked into as Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself talked about this issue and made "loud promises" of acting against them. "It is time that the BJP demonstrates that its words are not just rhetoric or 'jumlas' on paper," he said. "Is Adani or other big defaulters being spared because of their proximity to Modi," he asked and questioned the prime minister's "silence" on it and also the alleged delay in the investigations. An Adani Group spokesperson said, "As a responsible corporate citizen, all our transactions are always conducted within the framework of extant regulatory guidelines and provisions.
It is a standard procedure for the Group to follow International Competitive Bidding (ICD) route for major capital expenditures to ensure transparency and competitiveness in the process. The "Adani Group is aware of the investigations being conducted by the DRI, and has fully cooperated, and shall continue to cooperate with the investigating agencies," the spokesperson said. Quoting an article in a foreign publication, Maken said in this case three methods through which electricity tariffs have been artificially inflated were -- over-valuation of imported coal, over-valuation of power plant equipment and compensatory tariffs awarded to tune of thousands of crores of rupees. The Congress leader said the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) should exercise its powers under Section 79 of the Electricity Act, 2003 to investigate and reopen the affairs of all private power-generating entities to identify such fake over-pricing of all equipment to help bring down electricity tariff in the country. The Congress party, he claimed, shall pursue this matter to the fullest extent by also filing a petition before the CERC utilising the data available in the public domain. If the Modi government wanted to go beyond the "hollow rhetoric" there should be an immediate reduction in the power tariffs by upto Rs 2 per unit wherever these companies were producing and transmitting electricity as the cost of over- invoicing of machinery imported by the Adani Group and other similarly situated entities was ultimately borne by the consumer, he said. The money allegedly siphoned off by the Adani Group and other such entities belonged to people of India and consumers should get reduced electricity tariff by at least Rs 2 per unit if not compensation for inflated tariff wrongly charged, Maken said. He alleged that in a recent expose by an international publication, "it is now clear that the DRI report names the Adani Group and contains crucial allegations that the Adani Group utilised a network of off-shore companies to purchase electrical equipment and then sell it to an Indian counterpart at a much-inflated value and as high as about 860 per cent of the original value of the product".