When a 'home' is not 'home' for ONGC directors

Vol 16, PW 18 (04 Apr 13) People & Policy

If home is where the heart is, then ONGC's directors have their hearts in too many places.

ONGC directors stand accused of having multiple residences at company expense. KC Hari Kumar, a junior ONGC manager and president of the Baroda wing of the ONGC Association of Scientific and Technical Officers (ASTO), wrote to oil secretary Vivek Rae on March 3 accusing several ONGC directors of breaking government rules on company housing.

Kumar says the finance ministry's department of expenditure clearly stipulates that state-owned company directors are permitted only one accommodation at their place of permanent posting. But ONGC directors have company houses in Dehradun, site of the company HQ, as well as Delhi and Mumbai, where ONGC has offices.

Kumar first sought information from ONGC about the annual expenditure on houses for board directors under the Right To Information Act, 2005 on January 3 this year. He received an unsatisfactory reply from ONGC chief manager human resources Divya Capoor on February 7, 2013, who said, "no residential accommodation" is provided for board members in Delhi.

Kumar believes Capoor's answer is misleading: a quick look in the company directory, he says, reveals that ONGC directors "are occupying plum residential properties in Delhi." When contacted, ONGC responds that directors are entitled to stay in five-star hotels when on tour.

"If we let them stay in hotels when in Delhi,” says a source, “ONGC would end up spending Rs20,000/day ($368/day) for each director.” He adds: “Directors are mainly in Delhi because of office work.

So they stay in residential accommodation but technically we call it ‘transit accommodation’ not residential accommodation.”