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Ministry wants ONGC chief for just a year, with quarterly review

Nearly 30 candidates had applied for the ONGC top job in May and the PESB shortlisted nine, none from the private sector.

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Updated: September 20, 2017 7:16 am
ONGC, ONGC chief, Dharmendra Pradhan, Shashi Shanker, ONGC head, India news, Indian Express Nearly 30 candidates had applied for the ONGC top job in May and the PESB shortlisted nine, none from the private sector.

In a departure from past norms and guidelines, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has proposed that Shashi Shanker, selected to head India’s biggest oil and gas producer Oil & Natural Gas Corp, be initially appointed for one year — instead of five years — during which his performance would be reviewed every quarter instead of after the first year.

More than a month after the anti-corruption watchdog Central Vigilance Commission cleared Shanker’s appointment, Pradhan this week approved his name as the next chairman and managing director of ONGC for the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC). But with riders that go against the recommendation and guidelines of the government headhunter Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB).

Citing exploration challenges before the ONGC to raise crude oil and natural gas output, Pradhan has sought ACC approval for Shanker’s appointment with a year’s validity during which his Ministry will conduct quarterly appraisal of his performance before seeking fresh ACC mandate for further employment.

Incidentally, PESB rules say that a board-level functionary would be considered for appointment for five years or until the age of superannuation, whichever is earlier, with a provision that he/she would be assessed by the administrative ministry after the first year of his employment. The ministry, based on this, would recommend, to PESB, the incumbent’s confirmation for the balance tenure.

The PESB recommended that ONGC Director (Technical) Shanker be appointed as CMD for five years or until the date of his superannuation. Shanker is eligible for a nearly four-year term until March 2021.

Present CMD Dinesh Sarraf retires on September 30 but has been shortlisted to head the downstream regulator Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board on superannuation.

Shanker was suspended from the current post in February 2015 for alleged irregularities in an unawarded Rs 23-crore tender for buying 21 blowout preventers. He was reinstated in July as the Supreme Court held that a government employee’s suspension could not stand beyond 90 days unless the prosecution files a chargesheet within the stipulated time.

Nearly 30 candidates had applied for the ONGC top job in May and the PESB shortlisted nine, none from the private sector.

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    Murugesan Navaneetha
    Oct 5, 2017 at 9:27 am
    The Minister forgot that he was living in a democratic country governed by Cons ution. How illiterate the IAS officers who danced to the tune of the Minister to write an illegal note to ACC?. Now most of the IAS officers do not have backbone and they go to any extent to satisfy political class for getting plum post during and after service. PESB laid terms and conditions for recruiting Directors and CMDs of all A B Public sectors. Why discriminate only ONGC chief?. Why can not all the IAS officers as well as the leaned Minister undergo performance review every quarter to be in the post. Funny and lunatic recommendations. Had ACC approved the recommendations it would have been challenged in the High Court. Morally PMO office should dismiss the Minister and the IAS officers who putup an illegal note to ACC knowingly. I have filed a case against ACC and Ministry of Power for having given a wrong ACC approval in the High Court of Karnataka. That may be the reason why ACC corrected it.
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      Binod
      Sep 21, 2017 at 7:24 am
      If you start producing at high rate most of the oil and gas fields will be dead in one or two years. It is same as the story of the goose which laid golden eggs. Example of Reliance's KG Cauvery gas field is there to see. So be careful Mr. Pradhan.
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      1. Paki Terrorist
        Sep 21, 2017 at 5:08 pm
        Binod ... You commenting like an expert, do you know anything about Reservoir engineering ... ??!!
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      2. Raj Kanwar
        Sep 20, 2017 at 5:59 pm
        The latest proposal from the petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan to initially appoint Shashi Shanker as head honcho of India's oil and gas behemoth for one year with quarterly reviews of his performance is bizarre, to say the least. The proposal looks all the more ludicrous in the backdrop of its rationale that ONGC was faced with huge challenges in raising the country's oil and gas output in the years to come, and hence its chairman's performance needs to be quarterly reviewed and appraised by the ministry. This proposal is absolutely counterproductive in as much as a Sword of Damocles will always hang on the incumbent's head. This proposal from Mr. Pradhan is all the more surprising considering that he has been one of the best performing and hands-on petroleum minister in the country. Thankfully, Modi is a down-to-earth Prime Minister he and his colleagues in ACC will hopefully rule out such a outlandish proposal, detrimental to India's long term interests.
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          J.K.Bhalla
          Sep 20, 2017 at 4:19 pm
          Nothing is more derogatory for the ins ution and insulting for the person than recommending someone as CMD for ONE YEAR with provision of 3 monthly review, of what virtually is our national oil exploration company. More so, when this is done violating statutory PSEB guidelines for tenure of such posts. It must be realized that oil or mineral exploration per se is a highly complex SCIENCE, unlike a factory where performance is assessed as per production targets. But head of a science ins ution is not just a manager , but a SCIENTIFIC LEADER mandated to provide direction and thrust to its scientific workforce. Chances of failures are inbuilt in exploration and need to be accepted. Exploration is an idea based science where one success coming from a single bright spark can more than compensate for dozens of failures. The thought of keeping the leader on a leash through such inhibiting mechanisms is a recipe to kill new initiatives if ever one is contemplated to test new concepts.
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            mark
            Sep 20, 2017 at 11:47 am
            Under the Minister, Dharmendra Pradhan, Engineer India Limited (EIL) awarded a tender to a company IHS Markit Rs 6.2 crore for 12-week study. The competing next bid was from company Frost Sullivan for Rs. 1.5 Crores. Government tender specificaiton doesnt allow such a premium for second lowest price bidder. Moreover, competing firm to IHS was not informed about change of tender condition. This was covered by Indian Express in a story. There was a very clear connivance between Dharmendra Pradhan and IHS Markit. The Minister was invited to inaugurate IHS Conferences. There are lot of photographs posted around Linkedin and other social media s where Minister Dharmendra Pradhan with IHS Nirmal Sahni are smiling at each other.
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