Assam Gas fails to deliver under Swargiyari

Vol 24, PW 19 (12 Aug 21) Midstream, Downstream, Renewables

Assam Gas managing director Gukul Chandra Swargiyari is under scrutiny for his failure to make any difference to the company's CGD business since he took over from AK Sharma on September 2 (2019).

"Since he (Swargiyari) took charge, there has been no progress at Assam Gas," says a well-placed source. "In the last two years, we managed only 270 piped gas connections when our target was 96,000; he (Swargiyari) doesn't even get regular daily progress reports from managers."

In focus are two CGD-IX licences won by Assam Gas-led consortium Purba Bharti Gas on September 27 (2018): the 7494-sq km Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj area in southern Assam and the 4060-sq km Kamrup & Kamrup Metropolitan area, which includes Guwahati. But three years of the eight-year licence have passed, and Assam Gas has little progress to show: Purba Bharti Gas, a joint venture between Assam Gas, Oil India and GAIL, was incorporated only on November 19 (2019).

As its chairman, Swargiyari is boss to the man he replaced, AK Sharma, demoted to general manager finance at Purba. "Instead of providing CNG or piped gas, all he (Swargiyari) has done is secure CNG and electric vehicle (EV) licences for 100 petrol stations," adds our source.

"I don't know how he can make that work without agreement with the petrol pump owners." Only after sustained political pressure did Swargiyari reluctantly carry out a field visit to check Assam Gas pipe-laying operations in Silchar on July 26 (2021), says another source.

"In Guwahati, he (Swargiyari) people say he is loyal to the former chief minister (Sarbananda Sonowal), but the new chief minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma) is a hard taskmaster," he adds. "Swargiyari replaced (former managing director) Sharma, but now someone will replace him (Swargiyari); the only hurdle is his three-year term as managing director, but if the (state) government wants to, it can change that too."