Still no confirmation of new joint secretary exploration

Vol 12, PW 11 (16 Oct 08) People & Policy

Exploration companies might not have to spend valuable time becoming friends with a new face in the exploration wing of the Indian oil and gas ministry.

For days industry circles have been rife with rumours that Maninder Singh, currently director in the oil and gas ministry, has been formally promoted as joint secretary exploration to replace AK Jain, who stepped down in July to return to his home state Madhya Pradesh for a mandatory two-year cooling off period. Singh’s promotion has been impossible to confirm.

But we can confirm his name has been forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for consideration (â€کempanelment’) along with other officers who joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1989. “I can confirm that his file was sent to the PMO,â€‌ a senior source at the department of personnel and training tells this report.

“But, I can not confirm whether he will be posted to the (oil) ministry.â€‌ Another insider, however, tells us 45-year old Singh’s name was not sent to the PMO last week and that his position as future joint secretary was “discussed.

â€‌ Details of this “discussionâ€‌ are not known, sadly. A second department of personnel source tells us that if Singh’s name is still with the PMO it might take “another two or three months before the final orders come through.

â€‌ One argument against Singh’s promotion is his time already spent in central government. Official records tell us that on August 2 this year he had completed four years in his present job; his five-year central government stint ends on August 1 next year.

In short, if Singh is formally appointed as JS he’ll spend less than a year in the job before moving on, unless exceptional circumstances warrant his continued stay in Delhi. Born on July 28, 1963, Singh joined the IAS in 1989 from Assam and has been holding additional charge of the JS portfolio since July.