Moily revokes order to divest gas pricing portfolio from joint secretary Giridhar’s exploration wing

Early in the day,following Moily’s August 6 decision,the ministry issued order to divest gas pricing from Giridhar’s Exploration wing

Written by Amitav Ranjan | New Delhi | Published:August 15, 2013 2:27 am

In a day of flip-flops,petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily rescinded his decision to take away key portfolio of gas pricing from joint secretary Aramane Giridhar in order to stem the growing criticism from a Left parliamentarian.

Early in the day,following Moily’s August 6 decision,the ministry issued order to divest gas pricing from Giridhar’s Exploration wing and shift it to International Cooperation division. But later in the evening,it withdrew the order.

“In partial modification of this ministry’s office order of August 14,2013,it has been decided with the approval of the competent authority that the work relating to ‘Gas Pricing’ will continue to be dealt with by Aramane Giridhar,joint secretary (Exploration),till further orders,” the revised office order said.

The clipping of Giridhar’s charges,mainly gas pricing,had been opposed by the ministry’s top bureaucrat and had raised a controversy with CPI parliamentarian Gurudas Dasgupta writing to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Moily stripped Giridhar of gas pricing for standing up to the minister. On August 12,petroleum secretary Vivek Rae had requested Moily to reconsider his August 6 decision to take away gas pricing from Giridhar saying that the incumbent would not have “domain expertise” to handle it.

Moreover,he wrote,the new gas pricing regime approved by the Centre to increase the price of natural gas from $4.2 per million British thermal unit to $8.4 from April 2014 was “still under examination”. He was referring to Supreme Court’s July 29 notice to the Centre,Reliance Industries Ltd and Moily on a PIL filed by Dasgupta who alleged that no due diligence was done while raising the gas price. The apex court has posted the matter for further hearing to September 6.

But Moily cast aside Rae’s advice on August 12 saying he was aware of the capability of the incumbent and was confident that he would handle gas pricing in the shortest possible time.

That the late evening order is to quell more controversy is evident from the fact that rest of Moily’s diktat,some of which were also opposed by Rae — like shifting coal bed methane and shale gas to International Cooperation or transferring ethanol blending in petrol from Marketing wing to Refineries division — have been retained as it is.

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