Kothari new interim ministry gas division head

Vol 24, PW 15 (17 Jun 21) News in Brief

Joint secretary marketing Navneet Mohan Kothari is the new interim head of the oil ministry’s gas division after Ashish Chatterjee finally moved out on June 1 (2021).

Chatterjee took charge as the ministry’s gas division head on November 2 (2016) and is now Tamil Nadu's new Resident Commissioner in Delhi, a largely inconsequential position. Some suggest Chatterjee’s present job is temporary as he awaits a better position in Delhi.

Others say he probably wants to stay in Delhi longer. A trained physician, Kothari has been given only 'additional charge' of the oil ministry's gas projects division, pending the appointment of a full-time head.

Kothari joined the IAS in 2001 from Madhya Pradesh and has been at the oil ministry since February 2020, where he will stay until April 2023. A chemical engineer, Chatterjee joined the IAS in 1999 from Tamil Nadu and leaves behind "a very productive" legacy at the oil ministry where he launched CGD-IX and CGD-X, says a source.

"He was also the first joint secretary to handle just gas projects after pricing was given to another ministry department," we hear. An observer describes Chatterjee as "ruthless" in pushing GAIL, IGL, MGL and other state-promoted gas retailers to provide piped gas connections.

On September 27 (2020), the government issued an order - later rescinded - transferring Chatterjee to the National Defence College in Delhi.