Nalco headless for 3 years, ministry drags its feet

Written by Pranbihanga Borpuzari | New Delhi, Jul 30 | Updated: Aug 1 2008, 05:20am hrs
Aluminum major Nalco, a Navaratna company, has been headless for the past three years and it looks like the company will not have a chairman and managing director (CMD) in the near future with various sections in the mines ministry having divergent views on the appointment.

The post of the CMD has been vacant since February 2004 after the then CMD C Venkataramana's quit after a court case against him. Since then, CR Pradhan has been holding the post as an acting CMD.

According to sources, Member of Parliament Jual Oram had raised the issue of non-appointment of a regular CMD for the past three years during a meeting of the consultative committee attached to the mines ministry in February. In the meeting, while Oram was of the view that the Pradhan be made the full-time CMD of the company, former mines secretary JP Singh said the delay in appointment of a regular CMD was because of a pending court case related to the ex-CMD. Singh had said the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB) had recommended names of suitable candidates and the matter was under process in the ministry. But certain quarters in the ministry point out that there are vigilance cases pending against Pradhan, which prevents him from being the full-time CMD. In fact, not much has changed or taken place since the meeting.

Another section in the ministry said the appeal by Venkataramana in the Delhi High Court to keep the post of CMD vacant till the expiry of his mandated tenure, prevented the ministry from appointing Pradhan as the full-time CMD. However, Venkataramana's term in office got over late last year and the ministry has not acted to fill up the vacancy.

Pradhan retires in September next year and by all indications the government will drag its feet on the issue and look to fill the position once Pradhan vacates office.

It portends that Nalco may prove to be a company of stability and even growth in an otherwise pessimistic economy. As the company intends to propel the country to global prominence and is now holding its own in a market where every other sector is taking a beating, it is a sad state of affairs that it has no one at the helm of its affairs.