The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nalco boss sent on leave

New Delhi, Feb. 16: National Aluminium Company (Nalco) chairman-cum-managing director C. Venkataramana, embroiled in an alleged sexual harassment case, has been asked to go on leave.

Top officials said the Nalco chief would remain on leave till Mumbai police, who are investigating the case, file a report. “We will not take any action at this stage as these are allegations against a senior officer which are yet to be proved,” an official of the mines ministry said.

A 43-year-old Nalco executive had alleged in a complaint lodged with the police that Venkataramana, 54, made sexual advances at her when she met him in a five-star hotel suite in Mumbai on February 8.

Nalco project director S.K. Banerjee has been asked to officiate in Venkataramana’s place.

The turmoil at the top comes when the mines ministry has set in motion plans for a Rs 4,091-crore expansion of the aluminium giant, the biggest such firm in the public sector and the second largest in the country.

A Nalco officers’ union had alleged that the harassment scandal is the fallout of an attempt by private competitors to derail the expansion project, the completion of which would have helped the company tighten its market grip.

The expansion of the alumina smelter capacity had earlier got stuck following a debate on whether Nalco should be sold to private bidders. But last year, the company was taken off the sell-off list and allowed to press ahead with the project.

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