Fact Check: Journalist furthers lie about Mukesh Ambani being ‘mystery owner’ of Talcher Fertilizer Ltd

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday laid the foundation stone for the Talcher Fertilizer plant at Angul in Odisha which is expected to reduce dependence on gas and urea imports. The project is expected to be commissioned in 3 years time and Modi promised that he will be back after 3 years to inaugurate it.

A rumour has been floated on social media that Mukesh Ambani, the business tycoon, could be the ‘mystery owner’ of Talcher Fertilizer Plant (TFL) which is touted to be India’s first Coal Gasification based fertilizer plant.

The person does not offer entirely plausible reasons for his assumption. He says in his tweet, “Ambani proxies opened 2 companies, both named “TALCHER II TRANSMISSION COMPANY LIMITED” on the same date, long ago.”

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The claims appeared too fantastical to be true. Therefore, we decided to investigate the matter.

After a casual glance at Talcher Fertilizer Ltd’s (TFL) website, it becomes clear that the person behind the claims lost sight of essential details in pursuit of a premeditated agenda. There doesn’t appear to be any scope for a ‘mystery owner’ as the TFL is a consortium of four state-run companies. Its website states, “Joint Venture Company was incorporated on 27.10.2015 with contributing equity of GAIL, CIL and RCF being 29.67% each while FCIL retaining 10.99% equity.”

The person also appears to have reached the conclusion regarding the Licensor for the project without paying a single visit to TFL’s website. Their website clearly mentions that the Licensor for the Coal gasification was M/s Krupp Koppers.

The person’s claim that Ambani opened companies named Talcher-II Transmission Company Limited also appears to be unfounded. A quick search reveals that the Talcher-II was “incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of REC Transmission Projects Company Limited, on 1 May 2007” as per its own website. It was only after a successful bidding process that the company, which is a project specific SPV, was acquired by Reliance Power Transmission Limited on 27.04.2010.

The point to be emphasised here is that Talcher II which was acquired by Reliance is a power company and has nothing do to with Talcher Fertilizers Ltd (TFL).

Thus, it is clear that the insinuation that Mukesh Ambani is somehow associated with TFL is clearly unfounded and based on the figments of an individual’s own imagination. Thus, it was only natural that numerous activists perceived it as gospel truth.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, a member of the governing council of the NGO Common Cause along with Prashant Bhushan and a journalist, was quick to conclude that the ‘mystery owner’ is India’s richest man. Common Cause is an NGO that receives funds from abroad and indulges in activism on contentious in India.

It appears now that a certain section of the political spectrum is so keen on proving that the tentacles of Ambani are behind every government deal, they are concocting facts out of their own imagination as evidence of ‘collusion’. It is also important to remember that even if Reliance was indeed the licensor, it wouldn’t have been any evidence of malpractice as Reliance has the right, like every other company, to participate in the bidding process if it meets the requirements.

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