Vandana Sharma's 1-yr PNGRB extension

Vol 24, PW 18 (29 Jul 21) News in Brief

Vandana Sharma, secretary at the PNGRB, has been granted a one-year extension by the cabinet's appointments committee in an embarrassing government 'face-saving' exercise.

Sharma, a Central Secretariat Service (CSS) officer, was set to retire on July 25 (2021) after five years as the PNGRB secretary, the longest in its short history. But her "one-year extension beyond July 25 (2021) or until further orders" came in a note from deputy secretary Nidhi Srivastava on July 24 (2021) after an oil ministry request in June (2021).

Sharma became PNGRB secretary in July 2016, replacing IAS officer and award-winning author Upamanyu Chatterjee, who left in March 2016. A source describes Sharma's extension as a face-saving measure by the oil ministry to mask its failure to fill the chairman and member vacancies.

Only Satpal Garg remains, but he too retires on August 14 (2021). "Imagine what the situation would have been like at the PNGRB if she (Sharma) had also gone," says a source.

"No chairman, no members and now no secretary! You can see how the BJP government functions." He adds: "By keeping her (Sharma) in the post, it ensures continuity; if she had gone, it would have been difficult for the new members."

Sharma's extension order was copied to oil secretary Tarun Kapoor and Meera Mohanty, a director at the PMO.