Maninder Singh won't be the next JS exploration

Vol 12, PW 13 (13 Nov 08) People & Policy

Oil minister Murli Deora is set to choose a new joint secretary exploration from three short-listed candidates to fill the post vacant since the departure of AK Jain in July this year.

But definitely out-of-the-running we hear is Maninder Singh, a director in the exploration division of the oil ministry, who now handles some of the joint secretary exploration work on an ad hoc basis. PETROWATCH learns that on October 31, the Department of Personnel and Training sent a file to oil secretary RS Pandey recommending three names: Apurva Chandra, an IAS officer since 1988 from Maharashtra; Jagmohan Singh Raju, an IAS officer since 1985 from Tamil Nadu; and Ravi Kumar Kochar, a mechanical engineer from Indian Railways.

In the last two weeks, the file is believed to have moved to Deora’s desk. Chandra is seen as the most experienced candidate but he may face opposition from Congress party MP Deora because he worked in the ministry as secretary to the BJP oil minister Ram Naik, who held the post from 1999 to 2004.

Chandra, 44, and currently resident commissioner of the Maharashtra state government in Delhi, was also said to be a top candidate when the post of joint secretary refineries fell vacant after Prabh Das moved to Hindustan Mittal Energy in March this year. LN Gupta, considered a favourite of Deora, got the post in June this year.

Raju, 45 and also resident commissioner for Tamil Nadu based in Delhi, speaks Tamil, Hindi and Punjabi. He has some related experience with exploration with a six-month stint at the ministry of mines.

Kochar’s background is not well known, but he has an important friend. “Lalu (Prasad Yadav, railways minister) supports him,â€‌ we hear.

“He has a good chance.â€‌