New Delhi: Musical chairs continues in Coal India eight months after Sutirtha Bhattacharya, an Andhra cadre IAS officer, retired as full-time chairman of the company that meets 80% of demand for coal. The government late last night replaced acting chairman Gopal Singh, who is also the chairman of subsidiary CCL, with Suresh Kumar, additional secretary in the coal ministry.
Singh, a hardcore coal-miner who rose from the rank, was given temporary charge, in three tranches of three months each, after Bhattacharya’s retirement. In the meantime, the PESB conducted interviews and told the government it could not find any suitable candidate. The government then set up a search committee under cabinet secretary.
This panel too intervewed 12 people in Februray, including Singh, but nothing was heard of its report since then. Coal India is a behemoth and has to deal with multiple stakeholders on the ground — local politicians, administration, village and forest dwellers, transport & labour mafia etc — on a daily basis to ensure smooth operation of mines. This needs a cohesive and committed approach, which goes adrift in the absence of a full-time chairman at a time when commercial mining has been opened up for private competition.
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