Less than two weeks after HT published a report on August 11 revealing that former civic chief Subodh Kumar planned to join the Essel Group, Kumar has decided not to pursue that course.
His decision was aided by the fact that he did not get the go-ahead from the civic body he headed until his recent retirement. Meanwhile, Kumar, who had also been recommended as chairperson of the coastal roads committee, will now not be able to occupy that post either, on account of a perceived conflict of interests.
"Kumar wrote to us last week and asked us to withdraw his plea seeking a government nod to take up a job with the Essel Group," said KP Bakshi, principal secretary with the general administration department. "He has not given any new application, so we do not have to process it further."
Kumar says he declined the Essel Group job offer “in disgust”. “There are tremendous vested interests and mudslinging intended at maligning me,” he said.
Government sources said the BMC was asked, when Kumar first applied for permission to take the job, if the former civic chief had taken any initiative in promoting the Essel Group. At that time, Kumar was given a clean chit. However, he was later accused of using his powers as civic chief to approve the redevelopment of Vasant Sagar building in South Mumbai. After this, another questionnaire was sent to the BMC, to which the civic body did not respond positively, citing a court order terming Kumar's use of discretionary powers as unjustified. Kumar then dropped plans to work with the Essel Group, which has links with the firm building Vasant Sagar.
Meanwhile, the BMC is going ahead with its coastal road project without Kumar on board. Last month, Rahul Shewale, chairman of the civic standing committee, proposed a motion that Kumar chair the project committee. However, on Saturday, Shewale said the committee would not be chaired by Kumar. Kumar said he was never offered chairmanship of the proposed coastal road committee.