For Coal India, the development couldn't have been more ill timed. At a time when the sentiment around world's largest coal miner is fast turning positive amid hope of radical reforms in the sector by the incoming BJP government, the man at the helm of the public sector undertaking, chairman cum managing director S Narsing Rao, has decided to quit, quite unexpectedly.
"Chairman is leaving next week. He is yet to resign. He would do so just before taking up his new job," a Coal India official said.
Rao, an IAS officer of 1986 batch from Andhra Pradesh, who joined Coal India in 2012, is going back to play a key role in the state of Telengana, being carved out of his home state, to be officially formed on June 2.
"Narsing Rao is likely to join either as the principal secretary of Telengana or become chief advisor to the chief minister K Chandrasekhara Rao, a post that would have a status equal to that of the principal secretary," officials told dna.
Telangana Rashtra Samithi president Chandrasekhara Rao, whose sustained agitation led to the creation of the new state, is believed to have been in touch with Narsing Rao, requesting him to join the new government and help in formulating policies and managing the energy sector including coal, the CMD of the Kolkata-based PSU miner is believed to have told people close to him.
Coal India's CMD however is yet to tender his resignation and is officially on leave and as rumour spread in Coal Bhavan on Tuesday that Rao won't return, several officials, who spoke to dna, were taken by surprise.
"We were shocked as we had no inkling of this. I was eagerly waiting for him to rejoin after his leave as there are some court related documents for which the CMD is the sole signatory. His impending exit has really left us in a lurch," and official said.
Rumours gained ground after Narsing was spotted in Hyderabad accompanying Chandrasekhara during a meeting with the governor over formation of the new state.
Sudden exit of Rao is unlikely to bode well for Coal India as finding someone to head this crucial entity had always been challenging for the government and Coal India is likely to remain headless for sometime unless the new government acts urgently.
Since Partha Bhattacharyya retired in 2011, Coal India remained headless for a year with a technical director and then an additional coal ministry secretary being put as acting head.
Then Rao was brought in from Singareni Collieries Company Ltd for his exemplary work in running the Andhra Pradesh government majority-owned entity efficiently.
Incidentally, ownership of 51% of Singareni Collieries will now vest with the Telangana state where its previous CMD will again have to chalk out its fortunes.
"While Telengana is rich in coal particularly in the Singareni region, the newly-formed state would bring down power deficit with most of the existing power plants falling in the residual Andhra Pradesh state. So, Rao may be asked to work out state's energy policy," sources said.