Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Murli S Deora
Austerity? Rs 65,000 a month on taxi rental, hotel bills, airline tickets... ask ONGC
Former ONGC chairman Subir Raha had once complained that the Petroleum Ministry was treating the public sector undertaking as its “fiefdom”. He was shown the door after a five-year term even though he had two more years to go before superannuation.
Three years later, documents show that many bureaucrats in the ministry are using the country’s most-profitable PSU for benefits like chauffeur-driven cars, payment of mobile bills, air fare and hotel stay, collectively running into lakhs of rupees.
Documents show that the state-run Oil and gas exploration firm had provided vehicles “for the duties of the officers of the ministry on regular basis” paying monthly rents between Rs 35,000 and Rs 65,000 on each car. Some of these taxis have been deployed for more than a year and were still continuing, ONGC records show.
As for mobile phones, almost all directors, joint secretaries and the ministry’s only additional secretary had been provided a connection, with ONGC having paid Rs 2.30 lakh as usage bills until September 2008, while the officials were collecting Rs 1,500 plus per month as reimbursement on mobile/residential phone.
The navratna company also footed air tickets, five-star hotel accommodation and cars at Chennai, Mumbai and Ahmedabad for the ministry staff as well as their relatives.
While one director ran up a bill of Rs 6.3 lakh for 16 nights stay at different times in hotels of Mumbai and Chennai, a former Petroleum Secretary chalked up more than Rs 2 lakh for five nights in different hotels of Mumbai and Chennai.
The ONGC also shelled out Rs 1.35 lakh on airline tickets for officials in the Mumbai-Delhi sector and Rs 1.99 lakh in taxi bills for ministers and officials travelling in and around Gujarat.