Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi Denied Third Extension As GAIL India Chairman
Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi, chairman and managing director of GAIL India Ltd. (Photographer: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg)

Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi Denied Third Extension As GAIL India Chairman

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The government has declined Bhuwan Chandra Tripathi a third extension as chairman and managing director of GAIL India Ltd., said people aware of the decision.

The Department of Personnel and Training has communicated the decision of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet, which was looking into the issue after Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan recommended an extension early this year.

DoPT, however, did not give any reasons for denying Tripathi an extension, the people cited above said. Tripathi, however, can be appointed as interim chairman of GAIL India till a full-time head is selected.

GAIL India Director (projects) Ashutosh Karnatak is the seniormost director on the company’s board and is likely to be named interim chairman.

A few months ago, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had approved an extension of Karnatak's tenure by 16 months till his retirement in June 2020. Karnatak was appointed for a five-year term beginning March 1, 2014, and this term ended on Feb. 28.

Tripathi, 59, who was the youngest person to become a chairman of an oil and gas public sector undertaking in August 2009, completes his second five-year term on July 31 and was eligible for an extension till his retirement in January 2020.

He was apointed by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance for an initial five-year term. His extension was due to be reviewed in 2014, but the UPA in October 2013 approved another five-year term till July 31, 2019. Tripathi had served as director of marketing at GAIL India from July 2007 to July 31, 2009.

A mechanical engineering graduate from National Institute of Technology, Allahabad, in 1982, Tripathi started his career with Oil & Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. He joined GAIL India during its inception in 1984 and was one of the first team members involved in the construction and commissioning of Hazira-Vijaipur-Jagdishpur pipeline system.

He is the only chief of a major government-owned firm to have received an extension. Directors, including chairmen, on the boards of PSUs, are appointed for five years or until the superannuation age of 60 years, whichever is earlier.

Upon completion of five years, an executive is eligible for an extension if there is time left for retirement. However, the government has in the past denied extension to Subir Raha of ONGC Ltd., P Banerjee of GAIL India, Sarthak Behuria of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. and Ashok Sinha of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

Tripathi, who is credited with turning GAIL India into an aggressive gas marketing and transmission company, was considered the youngest chairman of a Navaratna PSU when he took over at GAIL at the age of 49 on August 1, 2009.

During his tenure, GAIL India was conferred the 'Maharatna' PSU status.

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