NHSRCL MD Satish Agnihotri, in-charge of bullet train project, sacked: Rlys

The Railways has terminated the services of NHSRCL Managing Director Satish Agnihotri who was in charge of the government’s prestigious project, senior officials said on Thursday.

Rajendra Prasad, Director, Projects, High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) has been handed over the charge for three months, the officials said.

Senior Railway officials said there were several allegations against Agnihotri, including misuse of official position and diverting funds in an unauthorised manner to a private company.

They said the decision to terminate the services of Agnihotri came following a June 2 Lokpal court order directing the CBI to probe charges of a “quid pro quo” deal allegedly struck by the former NHSRCL MD with a private company during his nine-year tenure as CMD of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).

The Lokpal court has 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 to the Lokpal office within six months or before December 12, 2022.

“The competent authority has approved the termination of office of Satish Agnihotri. He has been directed to be relieved with immediate effect,” read the July 7 letter of the Railway Board, addressed to the company secretary of the NHSRCL.

NHSRCL is a joint venture of the Government of India and participating states for implementing high-speed rail projects.

Officials also alleged that Agnihotri took up a job in a private firm within a year of his retirement. This was in violation of government rules which prohibits retired officials from accepting commercial employment before one year of retirement without the Centre’s approval.

Sources close to Agnihotri told PTI that the senior bureaucrat has denied all the allegations and said that he had not favoured a particular company and neither did his son work in any such firm which bagged such works.

They said Agnihotri also asserted that he had written to the DoPT seeking a waiver of the one-year cooling-off period before joining the firm.

Agnihotri, when contacted, refused to speak on the matter.

Officials said the complaints against him were made by one of his batchmates after he bagged the prestigious job of heading the NHSRCL, which is the implementing agency of the government’s ambitious project between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.

A 1982-batch IRSE officer, Agnihotri joined NHSRCL in July 2021. Earlier he was the chairman and managing director of Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL).

He has over 20 years of experience in the implementation of mega rail infrastructure projects. He also held the position of chairman, High Speed Rail Corporation Ltd (HSRC), a fully owned subsidiary of RVNL since its inception in July 2012 till August 2018.

HSRC was the Indian-side agency for carrying out various high-speed studies which were undertaken on a government-to-government basis with China and Spain, among others.

The Railways, which has issued an order to terminate Agnihotri’s service, refused to comment officially on the charges against him.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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