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Six appear for ONGC chairman interview

Mittal and Vaidya chose not to appear for the interview, they said.

August 27, 2022 / 07:21 PM IST
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Six candidates, including Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd chairman Arun Kumar Singh and Engineers India Ltd head Vartika Shukla on Saturday appeared for an interview before a search-cum-selection committee that is looking for a new head for India's top oil and gas producer ONGC, sources said.

The panel had called nine candidates, including ONGC's outgoing chairman Alka Mittal and Indian Oil Corporation's (IOC) head S M Vaidya for interviews, three sources with knowledge of the matter said. Mittal and Vaidya chose not to appear for the interview, they said.
Prominent among those who appeared were Singh, who is due to retire from the top Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) job at end of October and who has already been selected to head regulatory body Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board (PNGRB), and Engineers India Ltd (EIL) chairman and managing director Vartika Shukla. Others who appeared for the interview included Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) directors Pankaj Kumar and Rajesh Kumar Srivastava.
Two of the three external candidates called for the interview appeared before the panel, they said. The choice of the selection committee was not immediately known and the appointment will take at least 2-3 months as the candidate selected will have to be cleared by anti-corruption bodies like CBI and CVC before the name is put up to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) for final vetting and approval.
For now, ONGC will next week get a record third interim chairman. ONGC is without a regular chairman and managing director since April 2021. Subhash Kumar, the senior-most director on the company board and the director for finance, was named officiating head after Shashi Shanker superannuated on March 31, 2021. And when Kumar retired on December 31, 2021, Alka Mittal, Director for Human Resources, was given additional charge. ONGC is without a regular chairman and managing director since April 2021. Subhash Kumar, the senior-most director on the company board and the director for finance, was named officiating head after Shashi Shanker superannuated on March 31, 2021.
Mittal is due to superannuate at month end and unless she is given an extension, the next senior most director - Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, Director (Exploration), is likely to be named as interim head, sources said. A search-cum-selection committee, which was in February this year tasked to identify suitable candidates, began work only this month after terms of reference were finalised.
The panel has shortlisted nine candidates on the basis of the higher eligibility age limit proposed by the oil ministry, which brought most existing directors - who otherwise were ineligible to even apply, in the zone of consideration, they said. The shortlisted included Mittal and Srivastava, who is due to retire at the end of the year.
Strangely, the panel ignored ONGC's other two directors - Anurag Sharma and O P Singh, as also anyone from the other state-owned oil and gas producer, Oil India Ltd (OIL). It called Vaidya and Singh but not the chairman of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL). Neither did it call any of the directors such as Subhash Kumar who had become eligible for the post because of the relaxed eligibility. It called Vaidya and Singh but not the chairman of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL).
The ministry proposed that any candidate to be eligible for consideration should not be more than 60 years of age on the date of occurrence of the vacancy, according to the ministry's office memorandum sent to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on June 17.
Prior to this change, the minimum age prescribed for being eligible for the top job is 45 years. Besides, internal candidates needed to have two years of residual service as on the date of vacancy and three years for external candidates. What the ministry proposed was that any eligible candidate who is not more than 60 years of age at the time of occurrence of vacancy which was April 1, 2021, should be considered eligible. This essentially meant that the current acting chairman, Alka Mittal, who otherwise would retire in August-end and was ineligible, had come under the zone of consideration. What the ministry proposed was that any eligible candidate who is not more than 60 years of age at the time of occurrence of vacancy which was April 1, 2021, should be considered eligible.
Also, Srivastava, who retires on December 31, and Sharma, who superannuates on February 28 next year, had become eligible. Previously, only Pankaj Kumar and Om Prakash Singh were eligible.
The ministry also proposed an appointment for a period of three years from the date of joining instead of the present five-year term, according to the letter. The selection will be done through a three-member search-cum-selection committee headed by the PESB chairman and composed of oil secretary and former Indian Oil chairman B Ashok (outside expert).
The panel was formed on February 4, 2022, but the terms of reference are being framed recently. Most board-level appointments at public sector companies are done on the basis of recommendations of the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) but the government headhunter in June last year did not find anyone suitable among nine candidates, including two serving IAS officers, to head ONGC."Keeping in view the strategic importance and vision for the company and its future, the board did not recommend any candidate and decided to constitute a search committee," the ministry letter said referring to PESB's interviews on June 5, 2021. The panel was constituted after eight months of that recommendation on February 4.
PTI
first published: Aug 27, 2022 07:21 pm
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