Expect big changes at the DGH post-Sibal

Vol 13, PW 18 (25 Feb 10) People & Policy

Moves are afoot to radically restructure the DGH following a trail of allegations against former director general VK Sibal.

PETROWATCH learns the oil ministry wants to introduce a new layer of four directors that would report to the DG but also share his powers. “Right now the idea is at a preliminary stage,â€‌ says a source.

“But the ministry believes that concentration of all powers in the hands of a single director general was a bad mistake.â€‌ These four directors could be seconded from state-owned oil companies or even from the ministry and would vet all major development programmes before their final approval by the DG.

Another industry source says an overhaul of the DGH is long overdue. “It is not a very professional body,â€‌ he says.

“Ideally the DGH should have two separate arms, one for exploration and the other for production. Today it is solely focused on exploration with little understanding of production or operations!â€‌ Driving the ministry initiative are several allegations levelled against the DGH’s two former bosses: VK Sibal and Avinash Chandra.

“The ministry is getting lots of flak,â€‌ we are told. “The CBI, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chief Vigilance Commissioner and the Prime Minister’s Office are all criticising it for letting the two previous DGH chiefs get out of control.

â€‌ Sibal stepped down on October 31 last year after being denied an extension amid allegations of favouritism towards Reliance and other companies. One of the main controversies was his approval of a revised D6 development plan submitted by Reliance.

“The original $2.5bn development plan was cleared by a panel,â€‌ we hear. “But the revised $8bn development plan was cleared only by Sibal.

If he had followed procedure, he would have avoided being accused of favouring Reliance.â€‌ Less serious but equally damaging allegations surrounded Avinash Chandra, who was denied an extension by former prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in 2003.