Tarun Kapoor still awaits PNGRB confirmation

Vol 25, PW 8 (24 Mar 22) People & Policy

More than a month has passed, but there's still no sign of former oil secretary Tarun Kapoor winning PMO approval to become PNGRB chairman.

A source close to Kapoor says he "hasn't heard anything yet" from the PMO. "It looks like they will take much more time (to decide)," he adds.

"Cabinet approval takes time; all these things happen at the highest level in government; one can't challenge or question them or demand answers." On February 2 (2022), a government selection panel headed by NITI Aayog member and defence industry scientist VK Saraswat proposed Kapoor as the next PNGRB chairman over six others.

If approved, Kapoor will step into the role vacated by DK Sarraf, who retired on December 3 (2020). One source tells us Kapoor has "informally" been asked to be patient.

"He has been told the PNGRB job is not up to his rich experience, and he deserves better." He adds that's why Kapoor applied for the head of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC).

"Heading CERC is much better than heading the PNGRB," we hear. "CERC has a much wider scope of work, and the power sector has well-defined laws, unlike the PNGRB, which is still nascent; I'm sure Kapoor will fit in better at the CERC."

Our source adds Kapoor has power sector experience, and his father was at the Himachal Pradesh electricity board. "Kapoor used to say: power is in my blood," we are told.

However, our source close to Kapoor insists he applied for the CERC job "just like that" and that "most likely, it will go to a former power secretary, and (Kapoor) may not even appear for the interview." Others speculate Kapoor spoiled his post-retirement prospects by seeking an extension as oil secretary before retiring on November 30 (2021).

"(Oil minister Hardeep) Puri pushed his case too hard," we hear. "Sometimes it can be counter-productive with this government if a minister lobbies too hard for a candidate."

Others say the PMO is still unhappy that Kapoor, while oil secretary, did not recommend former power secretary Sanjeev Sahai as PNGRB chairman after the search panel proposed him on June 2 (2021).