Stuffed tiger complains at PNGRB treatment

Vol 14, PW 12 (02 Dec 10) People & Policy

Angry members of a pipeline committee attached to the Petroleum & Natural Gas Regulatory Board are complaining it is about to transform from a “toothless tiger” to a “stuffed trophy tiger” as its powers are further diluted.

PETROWATCH learns Board supremo Labanyendu Mansingh announced plans last month to change the committee’s role from ‘approver’ to ‘overseer’ from this month (December). “Honestly,” says a pipeline committee member, when contacted, “I don’t know what being ‘overseer’ means.

” This new role, he adds, is Mansingh’s attempt to pacify committee members, worried about being sidelined. “Many of the (committee) members would have resigned long ago,” we hear.

“But they have excellent working relations with Mansingh and don’t want to embarrass him.” Mansingh’s move seems to have backfired nonetheless, as committee members are anything but pacified - with good reason.

As an ‘approver’, the committee was meant to first receive Expressions of Interest (EoIs) from companies and consortia planning major pipeline projects before referring them to the Board. As an ‘overseer’, it seems it will now simply sign off on projects after the Board has decided to award them.

“We weren’t taken seriously as an ‘approver’,” we are told, “so I don’t know what we will do as an ‘overseer’.” These days, committee members complain they learn of important pipeline projects from newspapers, not from Mansingh or other Board members.

In April, pipeline committee chairman Hasmukh Shah, also chairman of BG subsidiary Gujarat Gas, wrote to Mansingh asking him to disband the committee, as it had “lost its relevance.” Discontent is growing, as not a single major pipeline project cleared over the past few months by the Board was referred to the committee.

“I wonder if the committee really exists,” comments a member sarcastically. “We haven’t met for a long time.

” Committee members are paid nothing and membership is entirely honorary.