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Panel for Sharma as ONGC chief

Sujay Mehdudia



R.S. Sharma

NEW DELHI: The search committee of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry has recommended the name of the acting chairman of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) R. S. Sharma as CMD.

Highly placed sources said that at the end of interviews, the committee, headed by Public Enterprise Selection Board (PESB) chairman N.K. Sinha, zeroed in on Mr. Sharma.

He has been the frontrunner since the committee was formed in February this year. Mr. Sharma had been the acting chairman since May 25 last year.

Second choice

The committee recommended the former bureaucrat Najeeb Jung as its second choice for the post, something that has come under fire from the Communist Party of India (Marxist). The party opposed the appointment of anyone from the private sector.

Interestingly, ONGC Videsh Limited CEO R.S. Butola was one of the notable absentees. He did not appear for interview. Mr. Sharma's name was recommended after interviews in August last.

However, in February this year, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) scrapped his appointment on the grounds that it wanted the selection process widened by inviting candidates from the private sector.

At a meeting last month, the search committee called for interviews on June 5 and 6.

The committee will now forward its report to the Petroleum Ministry, which will send it to the PMO.

After this, the Cabinet Committee on Appointments will take up the matter and give the final seal of approval.

The committee, which comprises Petroleum Secretary M. S. Srinivasan, the former Finance Secretary, Vijay Kelkar, and Bakul Dholakia from IIM, Ahmedabad, decided against sending interview calls to executives from multinational companies who had not applied for the job. Among the candidates who were interviewed were Mr. Jung, former Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, Director (Onshore) A.K. Hazarika, Director (Human Resource), A.K. Balyan, Director (Exploration), D.K. Pandey, Director (Technical), U.N. Bose and GAIL Director (Human Resources) M.R. Hingnikar.

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