Allegations of آ‘witch huntآ’ as Rao wields broom at GAIL

Vol 10, PW 11 (21 Sep 06) People & Policy

Allegations are flying thick and fast that acting GAIL chairman SP Rao has embarked on a witch hunt to remove officers loyal to his predecessor Proshanto Banerjee.

On 2nd September, hardly a week into his new post, Rao ordered the mass transfer of 39 officers to far and distant parts of the country, sparking a wave of silent protest within GAIL. Banerjee and Rao were never on the best of terms.

In his earlier role as director operations, Rao claimed caste discrimination when Banerjee refused to let him run for MD at Petronet-LNG and went to court with the full backing of present oil secretary MS Srinivasan. We accept that management can transfer any person to any part of India, one GAIL officer tells us.

But only if it is a rational decision and not based on malice or prejudice. Transfers should follow the principle of the right person for the right job, but this is not what has happened.

Take J Wason, who was shifted from Human Resources to Marketing. Wason is a HR person who was first shifted to Marketing in 2003, we hear.

Following his transfer, industrial and human relations at GAIL deteriorated. No meetings took place between management and the Officers Association to resolve pending issues.

In June this year, Wason was brought back to Human Resources and on 1st September organised a long overdue meeting between management and staff unions. The next day he was moved out and Raina was brought back.

GAIL officers stress that transfers usually happen only between March and June. Nobody is transferred after June because schools have started and employees children have begun a new academic year.

Some of those transferred by Rao had already been moved to new posts between March and June. These officers are being uprooted again for no reason.

Rao retires on 31st October and will be succeeded by MR Hingnikar if the government does not select a new CMD by then. We are concerned that the new CMD will carry out another mass transfer, says a GAIL officer.

Already there is much demoralisation. This will affect work.

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