New Delhi: With indecision in past 2-3 years holding up billions of dollars of investment, Oil Minister M Veerappa Moily has ordered bureaucrats to clear pending cases or face action.
Since early 2011, the Oil Ministry and its controlled committees approved several investment and other decisions pertaining to oil and gas exploration and production but the officials hadn`t signed on orders or minutes of the meeting that formalised those decisions.
The pending decisions include routine matters like nod for annual work programme and investments and critical matters like field development plans and approval of discoveries.
Oil Ministry sources said there were situations where the oversight panel, called Management Committee, had taken a decision but it has not signed for nearly three years.
Moily, they said, asked Vivek Rae, Secretary in his Ministry, to get all such pending cases cleared within one month.
Some of the officers had left the Ministry but they were located and made to sign the files, sources said, adding that most of the pending cases have now been cleared and only one or two remain which too would be cleared soon.
The Directorate General of Hydrocarbon (DGH)-headed Management Committee, where an oil ministry official is also a member, had in many cases "ordered, granted and awarded" exploration permits but the minutes of the meeting were not signed.
Sources said Moily asked Rae to threaten bureaucrats with action if they don`t sign decisions they themselves had cleared 2-3 years back.
The period in question pertains to when S Jaipal Reddy was the Oil Minister and most of the cases where decisions taken were not implemented pertained to Reliance Industries.
Rae first asked DGH to give a status report of pending decisions. There were as many as 268 files that had been pending for months.
Under instructions from Moily, Rae rejected arguments of officials that files were pending due to transfer of officers.
Over 88 Management Committee (MC) resolutions, involving several oil and gas blocks operated by public and private energy firms, were awaiting Ministry`s approval.
MC is an oversight panel which besides DGH and ministry official also comprises representatives of the operating companies. Each exploration or production block has a separate MC.
The Director General of Hydrocarbons chairs it and the oil ministry`s joint secretary-exploration is its vice-chairman. Operating companies are its members. It works like the board of a company and signatures of all members, including chairman and vice-chairman or their nominees, are a must to implement its decision.
Besides 88 pending MC resolutions, there were 180 small issues awaiting approval of the ministry, sources added.