In a swift reaction to a report in the dna last week about the failure of the state government's madrassa modernisation scheme, the Maharashtra State Minorities Commission has asked the minority development department to explain the reasons for the delay in implementing the programme.
Munaf Hakim, chairman of the commission, said on Wednesday, "We want to know from the government who is at fault for allowing the Rs10 crore fund to lapse that could have helped 200 madrassas. We are concerned especially because the money will not be carried forward to this financial year."
dna had reported on May 9 that the Dr Zakir Hussain madrassa modernisation scheme that was launched by the Congress-NCP government in September 2013 had turned out to be a damp squib as not a single madrassa had received the grant from the Rs10 crore allocated for the programme. The fund lapsed on March 31, 2014.
On the same day, Md Hussein Mujawar, secretary of the commission, dashed of a letter to the minority development department saying, "The minority community seems to be angry after such an important scheme, which aimed to benefit the community, flopped. The chairman seeks to know the fact why this scheme got delayed." A copy of the letter is with dna.
Interestingly, the minority development department had received nearly 400 proposals from Islamic seminaries under the scheme. About 200 had been shortlisted after scrutiny. However, the file did not move from the minority ministry to the finance ministry till mid-February. By the time the finance ministry gave its nod it was already the first week of March and the model code of conduct had come into effect.
Minority department officials as well as minister Arif Naseem Khan have sought to put the blame for the non-implementation of the scheme on the delay by the finance ministry and the model code of conduct. Community leaders and heads of madrassas have criticised the government, saying it has "cheated" the community.
Under the scheme, each Islamic school was eligible to receive Rs5 lakh aid to undergo an overhaul and join the mainstream education system by introducing the study of math, science, languages and social sciences in addition to regular Islamic education.
About Rs2 lakh was meant to be for facilities like drinking water, lab and toilets), Rs50,000 for library and Rs2.5 lakh towards salaries of three teachers at each institution.
Nearly 1.48 lakh Muslim students are enrolled in the 1,889 madrassas across the state. All of them are managed through "zakat" (donations) from Muslims, who usually give 2.5 per cent of their annual savings towards welfare works during Ramzan.