Himachal CM wants Ajay Tyagi back at work in Shimla

Vol 10, PW 14 (02 Nov 06) People & Policy

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh is blocking moves by the oil ministry to extend the stay in Delhi of joint secretary gas and marketing Ajay Tyagi.

PETROWATCH learns Singh has firmly turned down an oil ministry request to appoint Tyagi as member-secretary of the nascent Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, a move that would have seen him in Delhi for another two years. Instead, Singh wants him back in the Himachal capital and hill station Shimla at the earliest.

Tyagis five-year stint in Delhi officially came to an end in August 2006 but he was given a three-month extension till 12th November, after which he is technically required to return to his home state (Himachal Pradesh) for the mandatory three-year cooling off period before returning to Delhi and another job at the centre. Talented and well regarded, Tyagi was nominated by the oil ministry to stay in Delhi for another two years as member-secretary in the new body to regulate the oil and gas industry, a process that as joint secretary he was instrumental in overseeing.

But for this to happen, the ministry needed permission from Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh. Matters were proceeding to plan until Singh unexpectedly made a note on Tyagis file, blocking his stay in Delhi, saying he could not spare a good officer like Tyagi any longer.

Delhis grapevine suggests Singh either genuinely feels Himachal needs Tyagi or he is sulking at not having been consulted. Tyagi is one of the best officers in the oil ministry, we hear.

But you should never take a politician for granted. Singh apparently had no difficulty allowing a three-month extension for Tyagi to 12th November, but a two-year extension was a step too far.

Tyagis imminent return to temperate Shimla means the oil ministry will now have to look for another member-secretary for the oil and gas regulatory board.