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IAS babu's appointment in Prime Minister's Office reversed "under pressure" from top industry house

By Our Representative
A top source, known to have worked in close proximity with former Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi before Modi took over as India’s Prime Minister, has raised an alarm: The appointment of RN Choubey, a 1981 batch IAS officer, in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) was “cancelled” overnight “under pressure" from industrial houses, including Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). While official reason being cited for this is, the Modi government doesn’t want the PMO to become “heavy top”, actually a similar situation prevailed in October 2013, when Choubey was eased out as director-general hydrocarbons (DGH) by the UPA government for "differing" with RIL.
“It is highly unlikely that the PMO did not know Choubey’s background before appointing him as a Modi aide”, the source, who did not want to reveal his name, declared. Choubey was brought in as DGH in 2012 in order to revamp the body, which had been accused by CBI and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of being “soft” towards private oil companies while enforcing production sharing contracts (PSC). The RIL was particularly accused of deliberately digging fewer wells than envisaged in the development plan, leading to sharp fall in output.
Choubey was eased out of DGH in October 2013 under controversial circumstances, and the issue acquired political dimension. Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta immediately alleged that then petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily “removed DGH Choubey to favour Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries (RIL).” Moily’s predecessor S Jaipal Reddy had locked horns with RIL, which is why Reddy is said to have lost his job. Choubey was handpicked by Reddy in 2012 for the powerful DGH post, which is empowered to all major decisions as regulator in oil and gas exploration. 
Choubey
Under Reddy's tenure, RIL was penalized over US$ 1 billion for falling output from its KG Basin gas fields, which the RIL was involved in exploration under a contract with the Government of India. The huge fine is said to have become the main reason for Reddy’s removal from post, which he held between January 2011 and October 2012. Reliance argued that the falling output from the KG Basin was because it had “overestimated the reserves in the fields”, an argument rejected by Reddy, who ordered the imposition of the penalty.
In his letter to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Dasgupta had said that the DGH’s removal was a “sinister ploy”. “The present incumbent was appointed in June 2012 for tenure of three years. The plan currently underway to transfer him prematurely is a sinister ploy by the petroleum minister, who is acting at the behest of RIL in the matter”, Dasgupta had insisted.
Choubey, Dasgupta insisted, had “independent views” on the manner in which the RIL was refusing relinquish KG Basin’s D-6 blocks, off Andhra Pradesh coast. “By stalling the relinquishment of an area having 1,150 billion cubic feet of gas, Moily was trying to provide a windfall profit worth Rs 60,000 crore to the RIL”, Dasgupta said. The DGH had proposed relinquishment of eight discoveries of 6,601 sq km at the KG-D6 block.
Dasgupta
The RIL was accused of violating terms of PSC governing the KG blocks, deliberate underproduction, deliberate underproduction, and making efforts to put the D-6 field of KG Basin for auction. Instead of penalizing the RIL, the Government of India “rewarded” it by deciding to increase the price of natural gas from USD 4.2 per million British thermal unit (mbtu) to USD 8.4 mbtu from April 1, 2014, an issue immediately taken up by Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal to say RIL was the UPA government’s “dukaan”.
Significantly, Choubey was appointed additional secretary in the PMO three days ago by shifting Shatrughna Singh from PMO to the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). Choubey belongs to the Tamil Nadu cadre. After his removal from the DGH posting in 2013, he worked as additional secretary in Union ministry of power. Earlier, he was development commissioner (handlooms) the Union ministry of textiles.

Comments

Anonymous said…
not a good signal from the new government.. by bringing in honest and dedicated officer like mr choubey government would have sent a right signal to the people..disappointing
Arvind said…
Definataly... An Honest officer like Mr R.N.Coubey is deserving candidate in PMO. but its a bad signal for Government to removal from PMO.

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