Doubts about Srivastava as new DGH head

Vol 13, PW 19 (11 Mar 10) People & Policy

Did we speak too soon about SK Srivastava’s potential confirmation as DGH director general PETROWATCH learns oil ministry bureaucrats are having second thoughts about formally appointing Srivastava as DGH boss, despite his emergence as first choice from a list of six candidates interviewed by a selection committee headed by union cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar on January 28.

Srivastava has yet to receive a letter confirming his appointment, but keeping him in suspense, the oil ministry is believed to have asked him to remain as interim DG for at least another six months. “The ministry is unsure if it can confirm Srivastava after refusing an extension to (his predecessor) Sibal,â€‌ says a well-placed source.

“Sibal and Srivastava worked closely together.â€‌ Last October Sibal stepped down amid a whirl of allegations and accusations of favouritism towards Reliance and other companies.

Does the oil ministry now believe Srivastava was implicated Like Sibal, Srivastava came to the DGH from parent company Oil India. When DGH deputy director general from August 2007 to September 2009, he was widely seen as Sibal’s protأ©gأ©.

“Rightly or wrongly,â€‌ we hear. “Srivastava is being tarred with the same brush.

â€‌ More, Sibal is also believed to have written a letter to the Public Enterprises Selection Board, recommending Srivastava for the post of director operations at Oil India. Another motive driving the ministry’s re-think on Srivastava is a determination to tighten its grip on the DGH and have it headed by government bureaucrats, not technocrats.

“IAS officers are always looking for posts where they can park themselves!â€‌ adds another observer. “Being DGH boss would be a much sought after post as it’s a five-year assignment.

You don’t need to be a technical expert; especially if you have directors below you in charge of geology, exploration or production.â€‌ GSPC, say ministry supporters, is the perfect example of a company that has always had IAS officers at the helm and which has emerged as a successful domestic upstream player.

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