A reply to an Right to Information (RTI) query filed by a Bandra resident revealed that records of hundreds of acres of land are missing from the revenue office in Panvel. The state information commission has now directed the public information officer to provide the information by March 28.
The RTI applicant John Miranda owns land in Panvel. He had filed an RTI application with the talathi office of Vavanje village, Panvel taluka, to get the details of the mutation entries of his land last year. The talathi, who is also the public information officer, did not give Miranda the information he needed within the stipulated time. His first appeal with the tehsildar of the Panvel tehsil office, who is the first appellate authority, did not pass any order on the appeal.
Subsequently, he filed the second appeal with the state information commission. The commission members asserted that the revenue officials are using delaying tactics.
Finally on March 6, the public information officer’s responded. The officer stated that the register of the mutation entries from 1 to 459 of the Vavanje village are not available with the revenue office. “The register could not be traced as no communication is available with our office. In fact, information about who was the then talathi in the taluka is also not available with the office,” the response stated. It added that it is unknown when the register went missing which is why the information about who was the then tehsildar is also not traceable.
“The public information officer’s reply is not acceptable and clearly shows that they are deliberately delaying in providing the information. In this matter, it is necessary to file a criminal complaint under Maharashtra Public Records Act 2005,” the state information commission’s order stated. It added that the public information officer has to search the records and give the information by March 28.
Khar-based activist Daphne Warapen, who is working with Miranda to get the information, said, “How can the office not have the register or know who was the then talathi or tehsildar? This shows that there is a nexus between revenue officials and developers, who are trying to usurp prime property.”