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ONGC board has ‘best persons’ in upstream sector to head company: Chairperson

ONGC has the best talent in the sector to head the company, the firm's Chairperson & Managing Director (CMD) Alka Mittal said on Monday

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New Delhi: India’s top oil and gas producer ONGC has the best talent in the sector to head the company, the firm’s Chairperson & Managing Director (CMD) Alka Mittal said on Monday amid talk of the government looking at bringing in someone from the private sector for the top job.

ONGC is without a regular chairman since March-end 2021. Mittal, who is the second interim chairman since then, is due to superannuate in August but the government hasn’t yet invited applications to find a permanent replacement.

“Best of persons are sitting on ONGC board. There can’t be any better to head the company,” Mittal said in response to a question at a media conference here.

She was asked about reports of the government looking to bring someone from the private sector at salaries several times the current draw of PSU Chairmen.

“Best of persons in upstream are sitting on the board and I think they are best to head it,” she said.

While the company has a newly-appointed director (finance), it’s director for exploration will retire at year-end. But its director (offshore) Pankaj Kumar and director (T&FS) OP Singh have sufficient period.

The Government headhunter Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) on June 5, 2021, did not find anyone suitable from nine candidates, including two serving IAS officers, to head ONGC.

Thereafter on February 4 this year a search-cum-selection committee was formed to find a chairman of ONGC.

The panel will comprise of the chairperson of PESB, Oil Secretary, and B Ashok, the Former Chairman of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC). The panel hasn’t, however, yet invited applications for the post

This is the second time in one-and-a-half decades that a suitable candidate was not found 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 2007 vetoed his appointment as it wanted the selection process to be widened by inviting candidates from the private sector.

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

While a replacement to the PSU board position 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 2021 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 Shashi Shanker retired in March 2021, Subhash Kumar, director for finance and senior most director on ONGC board, was given the additional charge of chairman and managing director.

Kumar retired on December 31, 2021 and Alka Mittal, director for Human Resources, ONGC, was given additional charge. She will superannuate in August.

(PSU Watch– India’s Business News centre that places the spotlight on PSUs, Bureaucracy, Defence and Public Policy is now on Telegram. Join PSU Watch Channel in your Telegram and stay updated)

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