RTI comes to the rescue of farmer whose relative’s 74-acre land was grabbed by three city-based businessmen
Afarmer from Maval succeeded in retrieving 74 acres of land belonging to his son-in-law’s family after it was grabbed by three city-based businessmen, who colluded with government officials to change the land title. After nearly a decade of struggle Nathu Gaikwad, 51, a resident of Kambre Maval, finally managed to expose the shady dealings of revenue officials in Maval, notorious for land-grabs, by making use of the Right To Information (RTI) Act.
Gaikwad came to know through RTI that the land belonging to his son-in-law’s family in Sadapur Karle village was lost to three businessmen — Surendra Anand, S N Birdi and S S Gokhale — after government officials made fake documents.
Gaikwad told Pune Mirror, how he got involved in the land dispute and how the officials stonewalled his efforts to know the truth. “My son-inlaw Maruti Ghare and his family have land in Sadapur, which is 50 km from Pune. The title of the land was changed unexpectedly and without the knowledge of the Ghare family to S Anand, S N Birdi and S S Gokhale in 1988. The dispute came up before the Bombay High Court and Ghare family got an order in its favour and the title was revoked. But after three months we got to know that the tehsildar of Maval sent a letter to the revenue department, which informed that the matter is pending in the district court and once again title of the land has changed from Ghare to Anand, Gokhale and Birdi. We were surprised how the title could be changed. Meanwhile, an estate agent, Bhais and Gundas, came to us with offers.”
Upset with the loss of ownership of land, the family knocked at the doors of various officials like tehsildar and sub-divisional officer. But as the officials stonewalled their efforts to bring out the truth, Gaikwad fortuitously came to know about the RTI Act. “We tried to file an application before the tehsildar and sub divisional officer. Meanwhile, I came to know about the RTI and filed an application with nayab tehsildar (Public Information Officer) of Maval on July 8, 2009, but they did not give me any information. Then I made an appeal to the tehsildar (appellate authority) on September 30, 2010, but he too couldn’t provide any information. Thereafter, I approached the State Information Commissioner (SIC) on May 18, 2010,” Gaikwad said.
SIC Vijay Kuvlekar passed an order to the Collector of Pune to provide the information to Gaikwad and file a criminal case against officers responsible for changes in the title of the land. After the SIC’s orders, the collector inquired into the matter and now the process is underway to give the land title to the Ghare family.
Vijay Kumbhar, RTI activist, told Pune Mirror that the order of the SIC Pune is important because the order has taken cognisance of the changes in records.It has also revealed that Maval has so many cases of land-grabbing, which has been already exposed in the Satish Shetty case.
“Now the State Government should review all revenue records of Maval,” Kumbhar added.