The Oil Ministry’s proposal to strip ONGC of its main oil and gas producing fields of Mumbai High and Bassein in the western offshore is a “systematic weakening” of the state-owned firm, well-regarded former bureaucrat E A S Sarma has written to the Prime Minister.
In the letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the former secretary to the government of India, said instead of “weakening” ONGC, the government should adopt a conscious strategy to strengthen its ability and should be given sufficient functional autonomy instead of forcing it to buy debt-laden firms or pay high dividends.
“The latest decision of the government to ask ONGC to hive off the majority stake in the Mumbai High/ Bassein/Satellite Fields seems to be a part of an ill-advised (well-orchestrated?) strategy to cripple ONGC as the mascot of India’s self-reliance in the field of hydrocarbons.
“Is it a part of a larger plan to divest public equity in ONGC, as has been the case with many strategic PSUs of late? The government’s real intentions, in this case, raise serious public concern,” he wrote on November 23.