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The Oil Ministry Ministry has proposed raising of eligibility age as well as a shorter tenure for the new chairman and managing director of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation.

The following proposal has been raised after the government failed to find any suitable candidate for top job.

According to the proposal,  any candidate to be eligible for consideration should not be more than 60 years of age on the date of occurrence of vacancy, said ministry's office memorandum sent to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) on 17 June.

The recent vacancy arose after Shashi Shanker superannuated on 31 March, 2021.

Currently, the minimum age prescribed for being eligible for the top job is 45 years. Apart from this, internal candidates need to have two years of residual service as on the date of vacancy and three years for external candidates.

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The new proposal says any eligible candidate who is not more than 60 years of age at the time of occurrence of vacancy which was 1 April, 2021, should be considered eligible. This means, current acting chairman, Alka Mittal -- scheduled to retire in August-end would come under the zone of consideration.

Also, the ministry has also proposed appointment for a period of three years from the date of joining instead of the present five-year term.

The selection for the top post will be done through a three-member search-cum-selection committee headed by PESB chairman and composed of oil secretary and former Indian Oil chairman B Ashok.

Earlier on 4 February, the panel was formed, but the terms of reference are being framed only now.

"Keeping in view the strategic importance and vision for the company and its future, the board did not recommend any candidate and decided to constitute a search committee," the ministry letter said referring to PESB's interviews on 5 June, 2021.

The panel was constituted after eight months of that recommendation on 4 February.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) approved "consideration of central government officers, including those of the armed forces of the Union and the all India services for the post on immediate absorption basis."

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"Energy security is critical for the nation. ONGC plays a pivotal role in exploration as India's National Oil Company (NOC). Its activities need to be scaled significantly and rapidly. As an NOC, it is necessary to have a specially designed 'sui generis' job description for ONGC in order to attract the best talent available," it said.

If the proposal is accepted, it will throw open the field for ONGC's former director (finance) Subhash Kumar as well as current acting chairman Alka Mittal. Both of them are otherwise were ineligible for the post.

As per government practice, PESB recommends a name for a board-level position at least three months prior to arising of the vacancy. While in ONGC's case, PESB advertised and interviewed candidates after the retirement of Shashi Shanker on 31 March, 2021.

With Shashi Shanker's retirement, director for finance and senior most director on ONGC board -- Subhash Kumar -- was given the additional charge of chairman and managing director. When he retired on 3 December, 2021, ONGC's Director for Human Resources -- Alka Mittal -- was given additional charge. She will superannuate in August.

With the age relaxations proposed, other internal directors of ONGC would also become eligible.

With inputs from PTI

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