ONGC's 'non-core' golf course in Ahmedabad has oil wells

NEW DELHI: In what appears on first reading to be more about unintended fallout, the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) of the Union government, which had recently approved and submitted a list of 'non-core' assets of public sector undertakings (PSUs) for monetisation, is a golf course in Ahmedabad owned by Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) that abuts two producing oil wells.

The Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) has deemed golf courses and sports clubs owned by PSUs as 'non-core'.

A recent exercise by DIPAM to assess land banks and other non-core assets of government departments as well as central PSUs identified two of ONGC's golf courses in Ahmedabad and Vadodara, as also a sports club owned by Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) in Chembur, Mumbai, PTI reports.

Government sources told the newswire said the exercise identified only properties with real estate potential in prime cities while leaving out golf courses ONGC has in Ankleshwar in Gujarat and Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh. It also did not prioritise the grand golf course Oil India Ltd (OIL) has in Assam and one ONGC has in the North-East.

ONGC had built the one in Ahmedabad after it struck oil in the city more than two decades back. After the Motera field was discovered in Ahmedabad, ONGC was wary of encroachment around the oil wells in a city that was developing into a megapolis. So it built a golf course around the wells to ward off encroachers, PTI was informed.

The golf course identified by DIPAM has two producing oil wells, sources said, adding the field exists in a nomination block that according to rules ONGC cannot sell off or farm-out to outsiders.

The DIPAM diktat has sent the company into a tizzy as selling the golf course would mean the buyer also gets ownership of the two oil wells - something which is not allowed as per rules, they said.

For the record, DIPAM has ths far identified 12 sports facilities (stadiums and golf courses) for monetisation: (three of Railways — one in Delhi and two in Visakhapatnam), five of Sports Authority of India (Delhi), two of ONGC (one each in Ahmedabad and Vadodara), one of BPCL in Mumbai, and one of RINL in Visakhapatnam.