Saturday, May 9, 2009

Tale of whistle Blowers from HPCL

Here is a Tale of Whistleblowers in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL)
President of HPCL Officers Association (HPMSA) Shri .Ashok Singh, was Convener of Oil Sector Officer’s Association (OSOA) also since 1997. Oil Sector had successful salary revision during the BJP regime after an 8 hours strike on 11th Jan. 2000, Later he could stop Privatization of HPCL/BPCL by a judgment from Hon’ble Supreme Court in Sept. 2003.

Political leadership of MOP& NG and bureaucrats were scared of this formidable leader in the oil sector and specially at this crucial juncture while salary revision was due and Parliament Elections were around the corner, 3 unsuccessful attempts of strike on 30th May 2006, 5th Sept. 2006 and 21st August 2007 had emboldened the bureaucrats that neutralizing the leaders by punitive Administrative measures will break the OSOA, and Govt. can get away by offering peanuts to PSU oil officers.

The sinister design came into play from May 2008, while HPCL officers opposing the arbitrary appointment of an Ex HPCL officer as a CEO of HPC’s JV with Colas SA. France (HINCOL), went on a flash strike .HPCL Management under instructions from Shastri Bhavan (MOP&NG) promptly issued charge sheets to Shri .Ashok Singh and his coordinator in OSOA R.P.Srivastava for instigating the officer to proceed on flash strike.

Ashok Singh armed with all necessary information received through his Advocate under RTI Act 2005 on a ‘Marker’ system, which was introduced on 4.10.06 by Minister of petroleum &NG Shri Murli Deora with lot of fan-fare and National publicity, filed a CBI Complaint against then Secretary Petroleum and Natural Gas . Mr.M.S. Srinivasan , the UK based Supplier M/s. Authentix and their Indian Agents M/s. SGS Ltd. to Joint Director CBI (Western Region) Mumbai, irked bureaucrats promptly ensured that Shri .Ashok Singh is suspended within 4 days after filing complaint in a misappropriation case for an irregularity in one of the Retail outlets ( He had 140 such outlets) under his jurisdiction along with 2 more officers.(TOI news item dt. 4.6.08)

Basis their CBI complaint one spirited citizen of NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movement) filed a PIL in Mumbai High court on 16th June 2008. Against then Secretary Petroleum, OMC’s Chairmen, PPAC, CBI, MOeF, Legal Metrology, Authentix and SGS, Hon’ble Mumbai High Court in their judgment on 23rd Oct. directed MOP & NG, Vigilance and CBI to conduct enquiries.
R & D of OMC’s have declared in their report dt. 25th Sept.08 that the alleged ‘Marker’, which was launched as ‘ foolproof’ and most effective weapon against the Adulteration can be laundered by ordinary ‘clay’ Interestingly this ‘marker” was procured for Rs. 200 Crores by OMC’s @ Rs.10000/- litre may not be north even Rs. 10/- / litre MOP & NG for reason best known to them discontinued Marker w.e.f. 31.12.2008.( Indian express report dt 5th oct 2008).
Repeated Appeals and personal audience (at least at 3 occasions) to CVC (Central Vigilance Commission) under Govt. of India’s resolution for” Whistle Blower Protection” against victimization, yielded no result on the contrary, CVC in their order dt 30th oct 2008 , advised that both the officers that they will not be accorded protection of” whistle blowers’ and treated as a plain complainant. It is shocking that CVC has overlooked a Rs. 200 cr. fraud and refused to accord protection to 2 upright, honest, bold and courageous officers who have dared to expose corruption in high places specially against their own Ministry and Minister under whom they are working, and the corporations which claim to have compliance of clause 49 of corporate governance and a signatory of pact with ‘Transparency international’. The OIL psu’s have blatantly violated the Vigilance manual and guidelines on purchase procedures and placed Purchase orders on nomination basis, one such example in Shell’s refinery up gradation which has drained hundreds of crores from Govt’s exchequer, which is used for subsidizing OIL OMC’s losses by way of Bonds. In fact OIL PSU’s are shielding and camouflaging their inefficiencies, wasteful, imprudent , unproductive expenditures and Extravaganza in the garb under recoveries ( ET ‘s news item dt 8th may 2009)

Interestingly the above Secretary petroleum , pocketed bonuses , being on the Board of other oil companies , and DPE took strong exception to this and a directive was issued to such public servants , to refund bonuses received in their official capacities.(TOI. news item dt. 29.12.08).

It is reliably learnt that Investigating Agencies have commenced investigations; however no visible action has been taken so far (Indian Express news dt 24.12.08) .The young Gen. Secy. Of the ruling party has himself confessed in a recent press conference that CBI has been misused by the ruling parties, hence CBI’s selective inaction is explainable.

HPCL management suspended R.P.Srivastava alleging his involvement in the OIL sector strike on 7- 9th Jan 2009. (Incidentally HPCL was the only company ,which had not participated in the strike}, HPCL finally dismissed both the officers from service on 12th march 2009, after a show of conducting a slip-shod enquiry in their May 2008 incident and in violation of corporation’s own statuary provisions of CDA rules.

Both the officers have filed writ petitions, in the Mumbai high court seeking justice against CVC ‘s order ,HPCL Management, Minister of Petroleum for quashing of their compounding punishment in the hands of HPCL Management( HT news item dt 2nd May 2009)

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