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A Dilemma of Plenty
Wakf boards can Achieve a lot if Managed Professionally
The Sachar Committee created enough sensation across India in its report in June 2006, which highlighted the weak social, economic & educational ground of Indian Muslims.
Are they indeed poor? The Indian Wakf board has a land holding of over 6 lakh acres, with a market value of a whopping Rs 1.2 trillion; more than the combined 2011 budget allocation on health and education in India. This means that Indian Muslims have the third largest land holding after Indian defence and railways. The largest concentration of Wakf properties is in West Bengal (148,200 acres) followed by Uttar Pradesh (122,839 acres). Other states with sizeable Wakf holdings are Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The current value of Wakf properties in Delhi alone is estimated at over Rs.60 billion. So where lies the problem?
As per the Sachar committee report, the Wakf board presently manages Rs 1.63 billion annually out of its lands, while it can generate around Rs 120 billion if efficiently handled. There is widespread corruption on Wakf properties and least coordination between state boards and the central board. Most boards are headed by incompetent people or low ranking government officials. In addition, Wakf lands are often occupied illegally or locked in protracted litigation. Karnataka HC recently upheld the Wakf Board’s decision to evict the owners of Windsor Manor Sheraton hotel. The local managing committee had extended the lease with Windsor Manor without consulting the board. The latter cancelled the lease in 1981 and the case has been pending since. Such instances strengthen the case for a more professional, efficient and transparent management structure for Wakf boards in India, if the Muslims of the country are to be given their due.
By:- Akram Hoque
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