The appointments committee of the Cabinet has appointed Sutirtha Bhattacharya, a 1985 Andhra Pradesh cadre Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, as chairman & managing director (CMD) of Coal India Ltd (CIL).
Last month, the Public Enterprise Selection Board (PSEB) chose Bhattacharya from a list of 12 candidates. Among the short-listed candidates were IAS officers working under the governments of Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Manipur, as well as an executive of the Indian Railway Traffic Service, Ministry of Railways.
The government had advertised for the post aggressively, spending about Rs 1.5 crore on this. It received a lukewarm response and negligible participation from the private sector.
Bhattacharya is currently on superannuation. Earlier, he was CMD of Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL), Hyderabad, the second-largest coal mining company, after CIL. He has also served in the urban development, power, agriculture and land revenue departments of the Andhra Pradesh government. CIL has been without a full-time CMD for about six months, following S Narsing Rao resigning from the post in May this year.
The Centre has been trying to get a full-time CMD for CIL before the coal sector is opened to commercial mining.
In a judgment on September 24, the Supreme Court had cancelled all but four coal block allocations to the private sector in the past two decades. It had asked CIL to take charge of these mines till these were re-allocated.
CIL CMD is one of the most sought after position in the country, with executives, IAS officers and other government officials in the fray in past. However, now marred with controversies and held to ransom by unions for reasons ranging from commercial mining to disinvestment, the post is usually touted as a crown of thorns.