Ashwani Lohani has been appointed the new Chairman of the Railway Board after AK Mital resigned from the position following a series of recent train accidents.
Lohani is currently the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India.
Earlier in the day, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu had indicated his willingness to resign over the accidents, saying he had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A Mechanical engineer by training, Ashwani Lohani belongs to the Indian Railways Services of Mechanical Engineering (1980 batch).
He has been associated with the management of the Railways before as well. Prior to Air India, he was working as the chief administrative officer of the Indian Railway Organization for Alternate Fuels, a subordinate organization of the Railway Board.
He also holds a record of attaining four engineering degrees at just 21 years of age back in 1979, as per Limca Book of Records’ 2007 edition.
Why did A K Mital resign?
Mital was facing flak after the Utkal Express derailment in Muzaffarnagar. On Saturday, 23 passengers died and over 60 sustained injuries when 14 coaches of the Utkal Express, which runs on the Puri-Haridwar-Kalinga route, derailed at Khatauli in Muzaffarnagar.
Prabhu had directed the Railway Board Chairman to fix responsibility after the Muzaffarnagar incident. He also said that he would not allow laxity in operations by the Railway Board.
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.
However, Mital tendered his resignation to Suresh Prabhu last evening and it was accepted today morning, PTI sources said.
Functions of Railway Board
The Railway Board is the chief administrative and executive body assisting the Minister of Railways in the discharge of his functions. It was constituted under a resolution of the Government of India dated February 18, 1905.
Apart from its functions as the top Railway executive body for the administration, technical supervision and direction of the Railways, the Railway Board function also as a Ministry of the Government of India and exercises all the powers of Central Government in relation to the Railways.
The Railway Board also exercises the powers of the Government of India in regard to Railway expenditure subject to the ultimate financial authority of the Minister of Railways and the Union Cabinet.
Currently, the board has 10 members excluding Lohani.