More embarrassment for embattled regulator

Vol 13, PW 21 (08 Apr 10) People & Policy

Further embarrassment and humiliation awaits the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board - rendered virtually powerless by a Delhi High Court order back in January.

PETROWATCH learns the 75-year old chairman of the Board’s pipeline committee Hasmukh Shah wants to ‘disband’ the committee because it is being sidelined. Shah has already conveyed his displeasure verbally to Board chairman Labanyendu Mansingh, and is likely to follow this up in writing with a letter.

“Mansingh is a very dear friend,” Shah tells us, “and I still hesitate to write a letter. But the pipeline committee has become non-functional.

No new pipeline projects are being referred to us. So what’s the use” Shah became chairman of the pipeline committee on July 16 last year, a position that commands no salary or sitting fees.

So far, he says only one pipeline project has been referred to the committee for approval: a proposed GAIL pipeline to transport D6 gas from Andhra Pradesh to Rajasthan. The pipeline committee made several recommendations and modifications to the project, says Shah.

“But I really don’t know if our suggestions will be taken up by the Board,” he laments. Shah wonders why the Board bothered to set up a committee of renowned experts if it was not going to take the suggestions seriously.

“I have no idea why new pipeline projects aren’t being referred to us,” he adds. “This is not in good taste!” Worse, no one bothered to tell the pipeline committee about several important proposed cross-country pipeline projects, nor is it aware of the bid process initiated by the Board to lay a pipeline from Mehsana in Gujarat to Srinagar in Kashmir.

Disgruntled Shah explains the role of his committee was originally to look into all formal pipeline Expressions of Interest (EoI) submitted to the board so it could make recommendations.