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Friday, Aug 16, 2019

Ex-BMC chief’s move to take up job in pvt sector raises eyebrows

Subodh Kumar who retired three months ago has sought the government’s permission to join the Essel group.

mumbai Updated: Aug 11, 2012 01:37 IST
Sayli Mankikar, Reetika Subramanian
Sayli Mankikar, Reetika Subramanian
Hindustan Times

Even as the news that Subodh Kumar had joined one of India’s leading business houses, the Essel group, barely three months after his retirement as Mumbai’s municipal commissioner has caused a flutter in political circles, he said on Friday that there is no connection between his new job and the nod given by him for redevelopment of a south Mumbai building connected to the conglomerate.

“I have been given an offer by the Essel group to join their planning and strategy team, for which I have sought permission from the state government. Till then, I am working with them as a consultant. There is no quid pro quo in getting this offer. If had to make money, I could have made it while in the government,” said Kumar, who retired on April 30.

The development has given rise to speculation in civic and political circles whether there was any connection between the plum job offer and the go-ahead given by Kumar using his discretionary powers as BMC commissioner for the redevelopment of Vasant Sagar building on Marine Drive into a 13-storeyed tower by Vasant Sagar Properties Private Limited which is connected to the Essel group. The property’s redevelopment was cleared by Kumar just 18 days before he retired. The Essel group did not respond to our queries despite repeated attempts.

However, the decision was stayed by the Bombay high court on July 30, limiting the height to 28 metres since it was in a heritage precinct.

Kumar said: “When I cleared the file, the circular on the heritage status was not pointed out to me. Many properties around Marine Drive have got such a nod.” State chief secretary JK Banthia said he had received a letter from Kumar seeking the government’s permission to take up the employment offer, but refused to comment on the case. “He has applied for permission, and it is under scrutiny. We will be forwarding it to the central government since any commercial employment will require their nod under All India Service Rules,” he said. Kumar first moved the redevelopment request on February 11, 2011, when he asked his officials to process the file in a week. “The civic chief could have taken the heritage committee’s opinion in 2011 when it was in existence. He cleared the file in April this year when the committee was not functioning,” a heritage architect and former heritage committee member said.

“It is shocking that Kumar is taking up a job in Essel group, since he has dealt with them during his term. We will be taking up this issue of bureaucrats like Kumar taking up plum jobs right after retirement with the CM,” said Amin Patel, Congress legislator.

“As a statutory entity, he should have been aware that the permission to increase the height of the building in a heritage area would violate the law. All these facts will have to be brought before the central government, and a departmental enquiry needs to be launched to understand the violations,” said YP Singh, former IPS officer.

First Published: Aug 11, 2012 01:36 IST

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