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Jan 22, 2004
Boom time ahead for Rajasthan?

It can’t have happened to a nicer people. Rajasthanis --ahead of others in India-- evoke the classical, fairy tale image of this country. They are a hardy stock living soulfully in very challenging climes, served by little water. They are valourous, handsome, thrifty, colourful, creative and also, great conservationists. And, living as they do, at the crossroads of where much of India’s turbulent history has been played out, these majestic people have not been able to develop their economy commensurate with their genius.

Therefore, news of huge oil reserves having been discovered in Rajasthan’s sands will gladden Indian hearts in general and make them wish it well for Rajasthan. A few days ago, Cairn Energy of UK announced its strike near Fatehgarh in Barmer district, close to the international border. Initial estimates are that the recoverable stock is about 200 million barrels of oil. Worldwide, there have been only ten or so discoveries of this scale, in the last two years. In Edinburgh, where Cairn Energy is located, the news has made its employees and shareholders vastly rich in the course of a day. It is said the news triggered off a day long party. They must have enjoyed a satisfying irony: Shell Oil Company held the original exploratory licence but gave up on Rajasthan, and sold its rights to Cairn only a few months ago. India’s ONGC however is well off: it has a right to buy 30% into any strike made in India.

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