Ashwani Lohani was on Wednesday appointed as the new Chairman of Railway Board after AK Mital tendered his resignation following recent train accidents. The announcement by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet came hours after Union Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu indicated that he had offered his resignation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi following the recent train accidents. “Necessary communication in this regard has been sent to the Ministry of Railways,” the committee said.
Lohani who holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering, currently is the Chairman & Managing Director of Air India. Lohani, an officer of the railway mechanical service, had served earlier as the Divisional Regional Manager of Delhi. He was also ITDC chairman as well as the director of the Rail Museum in the capital.
Mital, a 1976-batch officer of the Indian Railway Stores, was reappointed to the same post two days before his retirement in 2016. With the two-year extension, Mital was to remain in office till July 2018.
Earlier in the day, AK Mital resigned from the post hours after Kaifiyat Express got derailed near Aurariya in Uttar Pradesh, injuring at least 70 people. The derailment comes just days after a major accident on the Haridwar-Delhi railway route when 14 coaches of the Utkal Express derailed, killing over 20 passengers. The train met with an accident after a dumper carrying sand overturned on the road parallel to the track.
In July, Mital became the first Railway Board chairman in history to be granted a two-year extension. His appointment was cleared by the Prime Minister’s Office. It was not immediately known if his resignation has been accepted by Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Prabhu also offered to quit in the wake of the recent train accidents. However, he has been asked by the Prime Minister to wait. Suresh Prabhu wrote on Twitter that he takes full moral responsibility for the derailments and has met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.
(With inputs from PTI)