scorecardresearch
Tuesday, Sep 27, 2022
Premium

Bullet train project chief sacked amid graft case

The charges of corruption, including an alleged “quid pro quo” deal with a private company, pertain to Satish Agnihotri’s earlier stint as Chairman and Managing Director of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL)

A 1982-batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Engineers, Agnihotri, who retired in 2018, was appointed as MD, NHSRCL, in July 2021. (Express photo)

A year after bringing him back from retirement to helm the bullet train project, the government on Thursday dismissed Satish Agnihotri from the post of Managing Director, National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), following a Lokpal court order directing the CBI to probe corruption allegations against him.

The charges of corruption, including an alleged “quid pro quo” deal with a private company, pertain to Agnihotri’s earlier stint as Chairman and Managing Director of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL), a public sector unit under the Ministry of Railways, from January 2010 to August 2018.

“The competent authority has approved the termination of office of Satish Agnihotri. He has been directed to be relieved with immediate effect,” said the Railways’ order on Thursday.

While it did not specify the reasons, the decision comes a month after a Lokpal court, on June 3, directed the CBI to probe allegations of corruption against him, including misappropriation, diversion and embezzlement of hundreds of crores of government funds, and an alleged quid pro quo deal with a private company.

Subscriber Only Stories
Kurmi club: On national path, Nitish looks east, at UP’s Sonelal Pa...Premium
Interview: MD-CEO, Central bank of India | ‘During PCA years, none of our...Premium
The Kurmis: a political historyPremium
Deepti Sharma and the question of law vs spirit in cricketPremium

Agnihotri did not respond to calls or text messages on Thursday. During the hearing before the Lokpal earlier, he had denied all charges and sought action against the complainant.

A 1982-batch officer of the Indian Railway Service of Engineers, Agnihotri, who retired in 2018, was appointed as MD, NHSRCL, in July 2021. On September 30, 2021, the Lokpal received a complaint alleging that Agnihotri and another senior Railway official, during their tenure in RVNL, had “misused their official position and diverted Rs 1,100 crore in an unauthorised manner to Krishnapatnam Rail Company Limited (KRCL), a private company, out of the funds received from the Ministry of Railways.” KRCL is owned by the Navayuga Engineering Company Limited (NECL), and the RVNL has a stake too.

It was also alleged that Agnihotri got huge contracts awarded to NECL, like the Rs 1,900 crore Rishikesh-Karnaprayag line and others. In return, as “quid pro quo”, Agnihotri was employed as CEO of the NECL after his retirement, without waiting for the mandatory cooling-off period. It was alleged that a house was allotted to him in Delhi, and his daughter was also employed by the same company.

Advertisement

The Lokpal court directed the CBI to “ascertain whether any offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, is made out” against Agnihotri and to submit the probe report within six months. The court, however, said action need not be taken against the other official as there did not seem to be any case of quid pro quo.

It was also alleged that Agnihotri misappropriated and embezzled crores of Railway funds by “manipulating” Performance Related Pay for PSUs, setting easy targets every year, and securing “outstanding” rating in order to get the payment from Railways.

The division bench headed by Justice Abhilasha Kumari asked the Department of Public Enterprises to revisit the policy of Performance Related Pay to PSUs when they get work from ministries and departments on nomination basis.

First published on: 08-07-2022 at 01:19:16 am
Next Story

If Uddhav camp calls rebels, they also have to speak with BJP, says Kesarkar

Latest Comment
Post Comment
Read Comments
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement