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Govt headhunter fails to find a suitable candidate to head ONGC

Source: PTI
Last updated on: June 04, 2021 22:35 IST
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Government headhunter PESB on Friday did not find anyone suitable from nine candidates, including two serving IAS officers, to head India's largest oil and gas producer, ONGC.


Photograph: Amit Dave/Reuters

The Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) interviewed 9 out of the 10 candidates who had applied for the post of chairman and managing director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (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," PESB said in a notice after interviews.


Those interviewed included senior bureaucrats Avinash Joshi and Niraj Verma.

Mangalore Refinery and Petrochemicals Ltd (MRPL) director-finance Pomila Jaspal and ONGC director for technology and field services Om Prakash Singh were the other prominent names who were interviewed, as per the PESB notice.

Both the bureaucrats are from the 1994 batch of IAS officers belonging to the Assam-Meghalaya cadre.

They both are principal secretaries in the Government of Assam, according to details available from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) website.

Others interviewed by PESB were ONGC executive directors Sandeep Gupta, Pankaj Kumar and Omkar Nath Gyani, ONGC additional director general Anand Gupta, and Container Corporation of India director-finance Manoj Kumar Dubey.

Security Printing and Minting Corp of India Ltd director-finance Ajay Agarwal, who had applied for the job, did not appear for the interview.

This is the second time in one-and-half decade that a suitable candidate was not found from among those who had applied.

In August 2006, PESB chose R S Sharma to head the company but the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in February 2017 vetoed his appointment as it wanted the selection process to be widened by inviting candidates from private sector.

In June 2007, PESB again selected Sharma and his candidature was this time endorsed by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).

PESB on Friday conducted interviews to select a replacement for Shashi Shanker who retired after attaining superannuating age of 60 years at March-end this year.

While a replacement is often selected before the incumbent retires, PESB did not hold any interviews for almost seven months as its chairman wasn't appointed.

The government in April named Mallika Srinivasan, chairman and managing director of Tractors and Farm Equipment (TAFE) Ltd, as the new chairperson of PESB.

She is the first person from the private sector to be appointed as the head of PESB.

After Shanker retired, Subhash Kumar, director for finance and senior most director on ONGC board, was given the additional charge of chairman and managing director.

Kumar, 59, will retire in December 2021.

He is likely to continue as the chairman till his superannuation as the process of inviting application, holding interviews, getting vigilance clearance and ACC approving the candidate may take longer, industry sources said.

Also on Friday, PESB picked Pankaj Kumar to be director (offshore), ONGC.

While Alka Mittal, director for human resources and Rajesh Kumar Srivastava, director for exploration, retire next year, Anurag Sharma, director for onshore was appointed to the job only in June last year.

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