Air India chief Ashwani Lohani to head Railway Board

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Ashwani Lohani
Ashwani Lohani

New Delhi, Aug 23:Air India chief Ashwani Lohani was on Wednesday named Chairman of the Railway Board to succeed A.K. Mittal, who stepped down in the wake of repeated train accidents.

An official statement here said the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet approved Lohani’s appointment.

Lohani belongs to the Indian Railways Service of Mechanical Engineers of the 1980 batch.

Mittal’s resignation has been accepted, a Railway Ministry spokesperson told IANS earlier.

Lohani’s appointment came hours after Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to quit after a second train derailed in Uttar Pradesh in four days, injuring 74 people. Prabhu said Modi had asked him to “wait”.

Lohani, 58, who has been touted as the “turnaround specialist” for the public sector enterprises, joined Air India in late 2015. He was currently engaged in giving shape to Air India’s global expansion plans, at a time when the government had decided for a strategic divestment in the airline.

He had told IANS in an interview here on August 6 that the “painful decision” of divestment would “open doors to a better future for the airline and its employees”.

“A renowned tourism professional and an acclaimed bureaucrat, He (Lohani) has earlier worked as the CME of Northern Railway, DRM of Delhi, MD and Commissioner of Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Director of National Rail Museum New Delhi, Director in the Union Ministry of Tourism, and the CMD of ITDC,” the engineer-turned-bureaucrat Lohani’s LinkedIn profile read.

On the other hand, Mittal was appointed Railway Board Chairman on December 31, 2014. His tenure ended on July 31, 2016 but he was given an extension of two years on August 1, 2016. His tenure was to end on July 31, 2018.

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