Union tells Pradhan to revoke ONGC suspensions

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) People & Policy

Another ONGC association has gone straight to the top and is calling on oil minister Dharmendra Pradhan to revoke the suspension of executive directors Sanjay Dobhal, JP Mishra and R Sunder Iyer.

ONGC suspended Dobhal, Mishra and Iyer, and chief of offshore engineering services, SK Singh, following the death of 86 people offshore Mumbai on May 17 (2021) at the LEWPP project executed by Afcons. "We understand the persons responsible in the unfortunate incident must be held accountable," writes LK Mirchandani, president of All India ONGC Ex-Employees Welfare Association, in a letter to Pradhan on June 7 (2021).

"But we fear the investigation is heading in the wrong direction and offering an escape ladder to the real culprits." Like ASTO before it, Mirchandani blames Afcons.

"You are kindly requested to revoke the suspension and show-cause notice to three senior ONGC officers and probe the contractor responsible for this," he adds. On May 19 (2021), the oil ministry tasked a three-member committee of director-general shipping Amitabh Kumar, DGH boss SCL Das and defence ministry joint secretary Nazil Jafri Shayin to report by June 19 (2021) into the tragic accident when barge P-305 and tugboat Varaprada sank.

Mirchandani writes everyone at ONGC is deeply "distraught and anguished at the loss of 86 precious human lives" - 75 from barge P-305 and 11 from tugboat Varaprada in the Arabian Sea when cyclone Tauktae passed over the Mumbai coast on May 17 (2021). Mirchandani adds the three suspended officials fulfilled their obligations by sounding the alarm and advising the contractor to return the vessels to safe locations.

"In stark contrast to warnings issued by ONGC," he writes, "the blatant ignorance, defiance of safety protocols and adherence to requirements by Afcons to marine operations manual, bridging documents and warnings issued by ONGC are a cause for concern."