The Planning Commission has urged the petroleum ministry to ask the boards of the major energy 'navratna' enterprises – Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) – to consider a proposal for the appointment of an independent consultant to assess the state of technology in each organisation.
"The government director on the board may be directed to have my suggestion placed on the agenda of the board and let us then see what boards actually think. The managements are of course free to persuade the board that the suggestions I have made need not be acted upon," Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said in a letter to Petroleum Minister Murli Deora.
The managements of both IOC and ONGC had earlier told the ministry "they are fully confident that they have up to date technology, and there is no need for an independent study".
Rejecting the contention of IOC and ONGC managements, Ahluwalia said, "In a world of rapidly changing technology it is only normal practice to submit management decisions to some type of external assessment. That is why I suggested that my proposal be posed to the boards of the organisations for consideration. Each board has eminent independent non-government directors, whose views would be of interest."
Ahluwalia questioned ONGC's claim that it "had become self reliant in technology" for efficient exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons.
"I am not sure what self reliance means in the context of a corporation. Does it mean simply that they think they have all the technology they need, whether internally generated or from outside, or does it mean they depend on internally-developed technologies. The latter would surely be an unwise approach."