Pradhan tells ONGC to set up Orissa office

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

Shameless self-promotion is only to be expected from a career politician.

But should a state-owned oil company like ONGC be used to improve oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan’s image in his home state Orissa? PETROWATCH learns ONGC is about to open an office in Bhubaneshwar, capital of a state where it has zero E&P activity. “Pradhan wants us to inaugurate the office by mid-May,” confirms an ONGC source.

“We’re on a war footing to set it up.” Last time we checked ONGC had no operations in Orissa so what will five ONGC officers sitting in an office costing ONGC Rs50 lakhs/year ($78,300) to maintain actually do? “We all know why we’re being asked to open the office,” adds another ONGC source.

“Only for CSR work. The BJP wants to keep people in Orissa happy.

” Pradhan, we hear, has ambitions to become the state's next chief minister, the main reason he's been pressurising ONGC for months to set up an office. When asked if ONGC received an official ministry order to set up the office, our source replies: “Such diktats never come in writing.

It’s a verbal order and we have no choice. What does it matter if ONGC has no operations there? ONGC has to look after the minister’s political interests over its own business interests.

” Pradhan has in the past represented the Deogarh constituency in Orissa in parliament.