Pradhan unconvinced by NK Verma's detractors

Vol 17, PW 24 (17 Jul 14) People & Policy

NK Verma, ONGC director exploration, is inching closer to confirmation as OVL’s next MD.

PETROWATCH learns oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan recommended Verma’s name on July 9 to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Days earlier, on July 3, Verma won crucial anti-corruption clearance from the CVC without which any appointment is impossible.

A ministry source says oil secretary Saurabh Chandra backs Verma, adding Modi wants to clear all pending appointments vetted by the CVC. This explains why Pradhan chose to ignore protests from three high-ranking oil industry officers who visited him on June 25 with a letter questioning the previous government’s haste in selecting Verma for three posts in quick succession.

He became OVL director exploration on January 1, 2012; ONGC director exploration on April 1, 2013; and was selected as OVL managing director on May 21, 2014. Verma's accusers claim the selection process for MD at OVL was fast-tracked to take place before a new government was formed with interviews less than a month after the April 25 application deadline.

They also allege that two “key” candidates for the MD post at OVL were advised by the ministry not to attend interviews, despite being shortlisted. Another source defends Verma’s selection, saying the process was accelerated only because the post had been vacant since DK Sarraf became ONGC chairman on March 1.