Kapil Dev Tripathi 'stickler for the rule-book'

Vol 18, PW 18 (07 May 15) People & Policy

Everybody thought likeable Dr SC Khuntia was a sure bet to replace grumpy Saurabh Chandra as oil secretary, especially as Khuntia comes from Orissa, just like oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

But it seems it was precisely for that reason that Narendra Modi rejected Pradhan’s recommendation to elevate special secretary Khuntia to the highly-coveted role. Modi’s reasoning, says a source, is that Pradhan gives enough favours to his home state and he doesn’t like cronyism, unless of course he has his own man in a post.

So instead Kapil Dev Tripathi, originally from Uttar Pradesh, but who joined the IAS from Assam-Meghalaya in 1980, took charge on May 1 as oil secretary. Tripathi was welcomed by additional secretary Ajay Prakash Sawhney and joint secretaries (exploration) UP Singh, Sandeep Poundrik (refineries) and Neeraj Mittal (marketing).

“We met Tripathi on the first day,” says an Oil India director. “He is humble and down to earth.

” If that is true, then it is indeed a welcome change from the last oil secretary Chandra with his arrogance and giant-size ego. One negative about Tripathi though is that he is a stickler for rules, at the cost of efficiency.

“I met him thrice when he was at the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE),” says an IOC officer. “He talks nicely but we never got any solutions from him.

He’ll always find something wrong and the file gets stuck.”

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