Amid the growing controversy around a series of rain mishaps within a week, Air India chief Ashwani Lohani on Wednesday has been appointed as the new Chairman of Railway Board, following the resignation on AK Mittal.
Notably, the Centre on Sunday suspended four Northern Railway officials and sent its General Manager on leave after authorities admitted to negligence that may have led to the derailment of the Kalinga Utkal Express train in Uttar Pradesh which claimed 22 lives.
Following the beating, Mittal reportedly submitted his resignation on Tuesday to the government which was accepted thereafter.
The new Railway Board Chairman, Ashwani Lohani has previously served as DRM in Delhi Division.
The development comes hours after taking moral responsibility of the two fatal rail derailments within a week of time in Uttar Pradesh, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to resign from his post.
In a series of tweets, Prabhu said that he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the wake of the accidents and tendered his resignation. Taking cognizance of the matter, PM Modi asked the minister to “wait” before taking any decision.
“I met the Hon’ble Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking full moral responsibility. Hon’ble PM has asked me to wait,” said Prabhu.
Speaking further, the minister said that in less than three years of his tenure as the Railway Minister, “I have devoted my blood and sweat” for the betterment of the Indian Railways. Under the leadership of PM Modi, Prabhu says that he tried to overcome decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones in the railways.
“New India envisioned by PM Modi deserves a Railway which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which the ministry is progressing now,” he said.
The minister said that the two accidents within a week — Utkal Express derailment claiming 22 lives and Kaifiyat Express injuring more than 50 passengers — have caused him deep anguish.
“I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives,” he added.
On Saturday, 14 coaches of the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed near Khatauli in Uttar Pradesh leaving more than 20 people dead and over 150 injured. And on Wednesday, 74 people were injured when the Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district, also in Uttar Pradesh.