Skip to main content

Headless GSPC, propagated as Gujarat's bluechip PSU, sending strong feelers: Company is in real mess

Gujarat CM Anandiben Patel
By Our Special Correspondent
Gujarat government's premier public sector undertaking (PSU), Gujarat State Petroleum Corporation (GSPC) – which shot into prominence in 2005 following its loud claims of 20 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas in the offshore oil-and-gas fields it was exploring in the KG Basin, Andhra Pradesh – appears to be losing sheen now within the government. Things have reached to such a point that not only the GSPC does not have a full-time managing-director (MD), it has no chairman worth the name ever since Varesh Sinha retired as Gujarat chief secretary in October-end 2014.
Notably, while the 20 tcf balloon exploded quite some time back, with even GSPC insiders quietly but strongly saying that the company’s KG Basin fields did no more than 2 tcf gas, out of which just one-third was recoverable, more recently, it was forced to withdraw from its costly foreign misadventure in Egypt, where it had taken up five blocks. It still has a few blocks abroad, in Yemen, Australia and Indonesia, but the GSPC has “little interest” in them, and the question currently being posed is: How to overcome GSPC’s huge debts resulting from haphazard claims and expansions?
Energy minister Saurabh Patel
Already, the message gone round, that a headless GSPC without a chairman and full-time MD suggests it is no more a bluechip company, which it was in 2005. Things have deteriorated to such an extent that, usually, the incumbent Gujarat chief secretary is made chairman of PSU in case the political leadership is unable to find one. But this time, D Jagatheesa Pandian, chief secretary, has not been given the chance. Pandian served as its MD for the longest period – nearly nine years ending 2009. An insider said, “Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel, despite her wish, is unable to cleared Pandian’s name.”
Meanwhile, there is a strong buzz that a major reasons for this is, Gujarat energy minister Saurabh Patel, who is known to the most corporate-friendly face of the Cabinet, has begun forwarding the name of Atanu Chakrobortty, state industries secretary, who also holds additional charge of GSPC MD. Emerged as No 2, the minister has considerable say in bureaucratic appointments, and “it was his suggestion which ensured that Pandian was not allowed to become GSPC chairman”, a source said, adding, “The minister is pushing for Chakrabortty as its chairman-cum-managing director (CMD).”
Chief secretary D Jagatheesa Pandian
The minister is said to be of the view that Chakrabortty is the only person who can deliver and take the top PSU out of its mess. Yet, things are stuck, with the chief minister failing to “clear” any name. It is said, even the name of MM Shrivastav – former finance secretary who is now chairman of one of the GSPC subsidiaries looking after installation of oil-and-gas pipelines across India, Gujarat State Petronet Ltd (GSPL) -- was suggested as next GSPC chairman. “However, the minister did not want him either”, the source pointed out.
Saurabh Patel's “choice” of Chakrabortty has attracted considerable curiosity in state babudom, as Chakrobortty and Pandian had never got along well in the past. “If more recently the two did not agree on several issues, involved as both were in organizing the Vibrant Gujarat business summit (January 11-12), one has only to remember how Chakrabortty’s appointment as joint MD was mysteriously scuttled in 2007 when Pandian was MD”, a senior bureaucrat said, requesting anonymity.
“In the last reshuffle, it was almost certain that MK Das, joint MD of GSPC, would be elevated as MD, but Saurabh Patel put his foot down, and ensured instead of Das, Chakrabortty should be given the additional charge as MD”, the bureaucrat said, adding, “Despite the minister’s choice, if Pandian manages to get his appointment done this would suggest that he has more clout than the energy minister. Known for his excellent rapport with politicians in Delhi, Pandian ensured he became chief secretary two months ago, setting side claims of his senior SK Nanda.”

Comments

A Govt official said…
You appear to have hit the true story... I read somewhere, following Gujarat CM's declaration of Rs 25 lakh crore investment, minister Saurabh Patel, in charge of industries, said said he has no breakup; chief secretary says ask the industries minister; and industries secretary says he has no comment
Indian said…
GSPC KG ballon brusted long back....no future unless ongc took some stake in project....orelse it will become soon become in sick PSU's list officially....

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

No space for 2 lakh waste pickers in Delhi masterplan for next two decades: Study

By Our Representative  A new survey report prepared by the NGO Chintan Environmental Research and Action Group on the challenges faced by waste pickers in managing solid waste in Delhi, “Space for Waste - 2021”, has regretted that currently, there is no provision of workspace for waste workers, hence they carry out their work of segregation, repairing, and composting at different locations.