Pradhan confronts Shankar over anti-PEC press

Vol 21, PW 6 (14 Dec 17) People & Policy

DD Misra, ONGC director human resources, must have received the shock of his life on December 8 while on his way to the airport in Delhi to catch a flight to Mumbai.

Instead of Mumbai he was abruptly ordered to board a plane to Guwahati. Waiting for Misra in Guwahati was ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker and other directors.

All of them had been summoned by angry oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan who was in the city to inaugurate a Skill Development Institute set up by Oil India. In a raw display of his authority, Pradhan impressed upon ONGC directors his anger at their covert opposition to a controversial oil ministry proposal to offer stakes of up to 60% in several ONGC producing fields to the private sector under Production Enhancement Contracts (PECs).

Only director offshore TK Sengupta managed to escape Pradhan's school masterly dressing down. Three days earlier on December 5 Pradhan similarly summoned ONGC chairman Shanker to Shastri Bhawan for the same treatment.

"He (Pradhan) mentioned newspaper articles published against the PEC policy," says a source. "And pointedly asked Shanker why ONGC is planting stories in newspapers?" Also present was IndianOil chairman Sanjiv Singh.

"Pradhan didn't want to vent his anger only at Shanker," we hear. "That's why Singh was also invited for the meeting." As reported in our November 16 edition, ONGC officials are calling on the PMO to block the new policy.

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