Death of PNGRB's first chairman L. Mansingh

Vol 24, PW 12 (06 May 21) People & Policy

One of the most outspoken voices against government intervention in the gas sector is sadly no more.

Labanyendu Mansingh, the PNGRB's first chairman from 2007 to 2011, died on May 1 (2021) after reporting symptoms of Covid-19. Originally from Orissa, 74-year-old Mansingh died of a heart attack.

"He had not been well for a few days," we hear. "He also had Covid and was rushed to hospital."

Mansingh's family was awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test, but before the results came back, he suffered a massive heart attack. Mansingh retired from the IAS as secretary in the consumer affairs, food and public distribution department on October 31 (2006) and joined the PNGRB as its first chairman on June 25 (2007).

"He (Mansingh) drafted most of the PNGRB rules, regulations, and codes that we see today," recalls a PNGRB source. Mansingh is best remembered for his running battles with the oil ministry as he fiercely defended the newborn downstream regulator's independence.

"He (Mansingh) was open-minded and friendly," recalls a source. "But he never let the oil ministry dictate terms to the PNGRB."

On one occasion, Mansingh lashed out at a conference in Gandhinagar on March 4 (2010), complaining about how the gas industry in India was "choked" by the government. "The government is everywhere!" he said.

"It fixes prices for oil and gas, and it allocates supplies." A senior Gandhinagar source recalls: "Only a person of Mansingh's calibre could speak like this from a public platform."

As the PNGRB's first chairman, Mansingh dealt with teething problems, including authorisation for city gas retailers established before the PNGRB's creation. "I worked with him for several years, and I can say he was a friendly, upright and honest officer," adds our source.

"He strongly believed in the creation of infrastructure, be it gas pipelines or LNG terminals."