Officers who gave information on Patanjali land deal transferred

Baba Ramdev
Mumbai/Nagpur: A fortnight after they helped make public the generous land allotment deal to Baba Ramdev’s multi-crore venture Patanjali, courtesy an RTI document, two information officers have been transferred.

Marketing manager of MADC’s (Maharashtra Airport Development Company), to which the land belonged, Atul Thakare who was also the PIO (Public Information Officer) of its Nagpur branch was moved to Mumbai. And marketing manager Sameer Gokhale who was a PIO in Mumbai was transferred to Nagpur.

In March, local newspapers had reported on the shoving of IAS officer Bijay Kumar from the finance department shortly after he questioned the basis of a 75% discount for land awarded to Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd. The report detailing how the price was lowered, was based on RTI documents. The land belongs to the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC).

The RTI documents were received months after the application was filed and appeals were pursued all the way up to then chief information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad. He had summoned then MADC chief Vishwas Patil to appear in person for a hearing on March 3. However, just 12 days later, two public information officers (PIOs) involved in providing the documents were transferred, sources said. Both had attended the hearing.

MADC’s marketing manager Atul Thakare who was PIO of its Nagpur branch was moved to Mumbai. And marketing manager Sameer Gokhale who was a PIO in Mumbai was transferred to Nagpur, sources said.

While Thakare had served in his post for four years, Gokhale was transferred just four months after his appointment as marketing manager, sources said. When contacted, Thakare said, “The erstwhile MD had assured me of a promotion for my work but I got a sudden transfer instead.” Gokhale said, “The transfer may have been for administrative reasons.”