'Insubordination' at PNGRB over GSPL pipelines

Vol 15, PW 1 (14 Jul 11) People & Policy

There’s no doubting Labanyendu Mansingh’s integrity and expertise but he also has an astonishingly hot temper.

PETROWATCH learns the PNGRB chairman this month launched disciplinary proceedings against three subordinates who questioned his judgement: deputy officer on special duty Deepak Sawant, deputy director VK Srivastava and joint advisor Ajai Sinha. What was their crime Mansingh holds them guilty of insubordination for insisting he consult the PNGRB legal department before issuing authorisation for three cross-country gas transmission pipelines, promoted by a consortium led by GSPC subsidiary Gujarat State Petronet (GSPL).

Furious Mansingh summoned the three officials on July 7 and yelled at them in his office for defying his wishes. Each of them received an official disciplinary letter the next day.

Supporters of the three officials defend their actions saying they were following a directive from the Supreme Court of India, which ruled on May 12 that any pending or new applications before the PNGRB should be collectively decided by the Board and not just by one member. Ignoring the Supreme Court and the advice of his subordinates, Mansingh issued letters of authorisation on July 8 for the following: · 1611-km pipeline from Mallavaram in Andhra Pradesh to Bhilwara in Rajasthan · 1688-km pipeline from Mehsana in Gujarat to Bhatinda in Punjab · 512-km pipeline from Bhatinda to Srinagar passing through Jammu Mansingh’s critics say he is rushing to clear these projects before he retires in October to win favour with GSPL and a lucrative post-retirement assignment in Gujarat, a charge he hotly denies.

“These officials were sitting on the files for the last five weeks,” said Mansingh, when contacted. “After a contractor completes all formalities, authorisation should be granted immediately.

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