ONGC

To

Shri Rajiv Gauba

Cabinet Secretary

Govt of India

 

Dear Shri Gauba,

I have come across a news report (https://www.business-standard.com/article/companies/ongc-without-a-chairman-as-subhash-kumar-retires-no-replacement-appointed-122010100678_1.html) about the casual manner in which the concerned Central Ministries have been dealing with ONGC, India’s premier hydrocarbons exploration and development agency, which is the country’s main plank for self-reliance in the sector. Apparently, the concerned Ministries have not cared to appoint the head of ONGC and have left it rudderless over the last several months!

In this connection, I invite your attention to my earlier letter dated 23-11-2021 addressed to the Prime Minister (https://countercurrents.org/2021/11/the-governments-latest-decision-to-hive-off-ongcs-prime-oil-gas-fields-to-foreign-companies-highly-imprudent/) appealing to him that ONGC’s hands need to be strengthened, not weakened, as an institution that should play the central role in establishing new hydrocarbon resources within and outside the country, induct the state-of-the-art technologies, promote R&D and develop the resources to enhance self-reliance in the crucial sector of petroleum, natural gas and shale.

I feel distressed that the Centre, instead of pondering over what I had stated then, should further weaken the ONGC, giving rise to apprehensions about the motives underlying such a dubious approach.

In my letter dated 23-11-2021 addressed to the PM, I had questioned the propriety of the government “directing” ONGC to hive off its Bombay High hydrocarbons resources to foreign companies, earlier forcing it to acquire 80% stake in the KG Block assets of the heavily indebted Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation, alienate its marginal hydrocarbons fields to private companies having little or no experience and part with 27% of its profit accruals during the last seven years to the government, thereby disabling ONGC to that extent in reinvesting on exploration in new hydrocarbon areas.

I thought that the government, which has been emphasising the need for self-reliance in such strategic areas, would correct the situation and take steps to strengthen ONGC, so that it may become a leader in the field and set benchmarks of performance for the other oil companies operating in India. Contrary to my expectation, the government continues to disempower ONGC to the detriment of the national interest.

Considering the genesis of ONGC as a statutory body and a symbol of national pride in the oil sector, when Shri K D Malaviya was in charge of the Ministry, far reaching changes such as these, need to be discussed in the Parliament and well considered decisions taken in the overall national interest. This is a matter of public interest and ONGC’s future cannot be casually tampered with.

May I request you to bring this to the attention of the PM, who may not have been apprised of the importance of ONGC in nation building?

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma

Former Secretary to Government of India

Visakhapatnam


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