Choubey wants more IAS officers at the DGH

Vol 15, PW 25 (28 Jun 12) People & Policy

Newly appointed DGH boss Rajiv Nayan Choubey, 53, wants more bureaucrats running the Indian upstream regulator’s office.

Choubey, who took charge on June 12, has the dubious distinction of being the first bureaucrat to head the DGH since it was set up in 1993 modelled on the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate. He wrote to the oil ministry on June 19 asking for two fellow IAS officers as his deputy director generals.

“How can Choubey and his (proposed) deputies comment on or sign off on the technical issues that this sector faces” wonders a puzzled source. Earlier DGH chiefs Avinash Chandra, VK Sibal and SK Srivastava were all technocrats whose deputies had technical backgrounds.

Choubey, who joined the IAS in 1981, holds the higher additional secretary rank but ironically reports to lower ranked ministry joint secretary exploration Aramane Giridhar. “In theory Giridhar is Choubey’s boss,” we learn.

“But in reality it will be Giridhar reporting to Choubey! How can a joint secretary dare overrule an additional secretary who could be his boss in the future (when both move out)” Giridhar held temporary charge of the director general post until Choubey’s appointment, announced on June 5. One source sarcastically suggests the ministry should openly declare it intends to absorb the DGH.

Why carry on with this ‘fiction’ of a separate technical advisor Another cynical source says it is a useful arrangement that enables the ministry to shift blame when controversy erupts. “When they want to shirk responsibility ministry bureaucrats say the DGH is the (independent) upstream regulator but when they want to show who is boss they say it's just a technical advisor,” he says.