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NEW DELHI, Sept. 5

Brushing aside the rumours that, he has refused to adhere to a directive of the Petroleum Minister, Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar, to be present in Dhaka on Monday, the ONGC Chairman, Mr Subir Raha, told Business Line, that "It was on health grounds. I had informed the Minister about it. There is nothing else to it."

Mr Aiyar wanted Mr Raha to be present in Dhaka to participate in the discussions on Mynamar-Bangladesh-India natural gas pipeline project during his day-long visit today. Both ONGC and GAIL (India) are holding stakes in a block in Mynamar where huge gas discovery was made last year.

Mr Raha's absence in Dhaka on Monday sparked off rumours about his differences with the Ministry and the likely possibility of him being forced to demit office on September 21, if his resistance to the Petroleum Ministry's move turns into a plebiscite at the company's annual general meeting.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 6, 2005)
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