Raha condemns ASTO on day of chopper crash

Vol 7, PW 14 (24 Sep 03) People & Policy

ONGC chairman Subir Raha doesn't forgive or forget easily.

On 13th September members of ONGC union the Association of Scientific and Technical Officers got a taste of his anger at a meeting in Delhi organised to congratulate newly appointed human resources director AK Balyan. This was Rahas first public encounter with ASTO after a tragic helicopter crash on 11th August, which killed 29 people on board, of which were ONGC staff.

A day later ASTO leaders indulged in physical violence against each other and tried to assault Raha by smashing the front and rear windows of his car. A source tells this report, Raha asked ASTO why they wanted to kill him, and for whose benefit Was this the price, to kill the chairman Was this ASTOs character At the meeting Raha warned those present that, he would not bend to any kind of pressure and that ONGC's board would not permit anyone to beat-up officers or bring shame to ONGC.

He also expressed his unhappiness over ASTOs demand for income-tax relief for 'hard duty' earned by offshore personnel on the day of the accident. How can you forget that ONGC was a tottering organization in February 2001 and that now it is the biggest and best company in India he said.

How did this bad behaviour get away with practically no public condemnation" Raha is in no mood to spare the culprits atONGC. We reliably understand the chairman is in possession of TV news video of ONGC employees pelting stones at his car and also those who attempted to drag him out of his car outside ONGCs helibase in Mumbai on 12th September.

Most of the guys have been identified, said a source. "Action will be taken against those found guilty." Repentant, ASTO issued an internal circular on 18th September from the president of its Mumbai unit LK Mirchandani assuming full moral responsibility for the incident.

Contacted by PETROWATCH, Mirchandani blamed a rival faction of the union led by president Shreedhar Vyas for the violence. Yes, the Mumbai unit has taken the moral responsibility but we have not apologised to the management," Mirchandani tells PETROWATCH.

"Its the rival faction of Mr Vyas which did it. ASTO has set up a four-member committee to identify the individual role and responsibility of the employees involved in the incident and to recommend 'corrective action'.