The counsel for the two-member Adarsh inquiry commission, Dipan Merchant, on Thursday put a question mark on the land records maintained by the state government.
Merchant, who cross-examined Sanjay Dhikle, superintendent of City Survey and Land Records, highlighted an internal correspondence between the urban development department and the city collector’s office to show that the existing land records of Backbay Reclamation (which include Adarsh society) were ambiguous.
This could upset the state government’s arguments that the Adarsh plot did not exist till the late ’70s as it was under water until then.
The state government is relying on old maps of the area, including a development map of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation 1967 and proposed Backbay Reclamation map to show that the plot did not exist.
However, the letter, “purportedly” of December last year, written by principal secretary of urban development department, TC Benjamin to city collector Sanjay Oak, says there was need to create “accurate land records of the Backbay Reclamation area”.
The letter states, “The existing land records of the Backbay Reclamation area and Bandra-Kurla Complex do not conform to specifications prescribed in the city/survey manual. The records are not accurate resulting in ambiguity not only of the rights of landowners but also of spatial details”.
Dhikle, in his reply, told Merchant that he was reading this letter for the first time and he did not know what action had been taken by his office following this correspondence.
However, Dhikle also reiterated that Block VI was under water until 1975. He said this on the basis of one survey sheet in respect of Block VI of Colaba division submitted to the commission as evidence, which houses the controversial Adarsh plot.
Sheet no 770 was based on a survey of the Block done in 1974 and published in 1975.