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Vasudeva tipped to become ONGC chief

Special Correspondent


Awaiting clearance by the PMO before it is ratified by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet


NEW DELHI: Surviving a series of frivolous complaints and forged letters allegedly written by Members of Parliament, Sunil Vasudeva's name has been finally cleared for appointment as the Chairman and Managing Director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and is awaiting clearance by the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) before it is ratified by the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC).

The appointment of Mr. Vasudeva, the senior-most official in ONGC hierarchy, has been delayed by almost six months for various reasons including change of guard in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Jaipal Reddy, has already given his consent to Mr. Vasudeva's name and the matter is awaiting final approval from the PMO before it is put up for ACC approval, which could happen anytime.

A gold medalist in chemical engineering from the National Institute of Technology, Raipur, and a management graduate, Mr. Vasudeva joined ONGC in 1976 and specialises in production. ONGC has been virtually headless for the past six months and is being presently presided over by Director (Onshore), A. K. Hazarika who is the acting CMD of the organisation.

Officials in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry told The Hindu that Mr. Reddy went through the whole case again as there were various issues involved including ‘letters' written by MPs levelling ‘serious charges' of corruption against Mr. Vasudeva. Although, soon after taking over as the Petroleum Minister in January this year, Mr. Reddy had set in motion the process for appointing a new head for ONGC, the matter got delayed as objections were raised over the Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) of ONGC issuing an NOC to Mr. Vasudeva.

Officials said Mr. Reddy objected to this process and sought to know how somebody from within the organisation give an NOC to his own future boss and asked the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to look into the issue. Only after the Technical Committee of CVC gave the formal go ahead, Mr. Reddy gave his nod to Mr. Vasudeva's appointment. It came up during the appointment approval process that Congress MP from Murshidabad, A. Mannan Hossain, had written to the Prime Minister about allegations of corruption against Mr. Vasudeva. However, later, he denied having written any such letter. Later, letters written by two other MPs, DMK's Adhi Sankar and CPM's Tapan Sen, also surfaced reiterating the same allegations. However, later, these MPs also stated that they had not sent any such letters thereby paving the way for formal appointment of Mr. Vasudeva.

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