Vol 3, PW 12 (07 Jul 99) People & Policy

In the last issue of Petrowatch we reported on the surprise resignation of TK Gopalaswamy, Director Exploration, ONGC.

It now transpires the oil ministry has learnt of rumours linking him to foreign oil companies and summoned him to Shastri Bhawan (the oil ministry HQ) for an urgent explanation of his action. Oil minister Vazhappady Ramamurthy and TS Vijayaraghvan, the oil secretary, are both reported to have given him a dressing down and asked him to withdraw his resignation.

They told him he could not leave ONGC at a time when the government has invited bids under the New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) - a round in which ONGC is expected to bid heavily. They add that because of his sudden resignation, no one has been groomed to take his place.

In short, the ministry is not accepting his resignation and has told him that if he stops reporting for work, he will invite disciplinary action, which would threaten his pension. Gopalaswamy, however, remains adamant and is not giving in.

In an interview for this report, he categorically rules out joining any company - private or public - after he retires. He tells Petrowatch that the prospect of joining another company was not the motive for his premature retirement.

Asked if he would consider joining a public sector undertaking such as Gas Authority of India (which plans to enter exploration) as a consultant he replied: "Why should I join GAIL GAIL and exploration don't mix. GAIL is a company engaged in trading and transportation of gas.

It has never taken a risk in its life. Exploration is an area fraught with high risk".

Our correspondent in Madras adds: "My impression is that Gopalaswamy simply wants to return to Madras and lead a quiet retired life - at least for the time being".