Govt sacks Bullet Train project head Satish Agnihotri, accused of misusing position
The decision to terminate the services of Satish Agnihotri came following a June 2 Lokpal court order directing the CBI to probe charges of a "quid pro quo" deal allegedly struck by him, reports PTI.
- NHSRCL Managing Director Satish Agnihotri sacked
- He was in charge of the government's prestigious bullet train project
- Agnihotri was accused of misusing his official position and diverting funds to a private company
NHSRCL Managing Director Satish Agnihotri, who was in charge of the government's prestigious bullet train project, has been terminated by the Railways. According to officials, Rajendra Prasad, Director, Projects, National High-Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL), has been given the charge for three months. Senior Railway officials said Agnihotri was accused of misusing his official position and diverting funds to a private company without authorisation. 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 bullet train 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, of 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.
With inputs from PTI