Even as the Congress- NCP led state government is planning to bring in quotas for Muslims, a committee of the state legislature has pointed to rampant encroachments on wakf lands in Maharashtra and recommended that these encumbrances be done away with and that the government takes the matter seriously.
Headed by Congress MLA from Bandra (West) Baba Siddique, the minority welfare committee in its first report submitted to the legislature, has also made suggestions to ensure that schemes formulated by the minority welfare department reach the intended beneficiaries.
Official statistics suggest that the state has around 93,418 acres of wakf land spread over 23,566 properties, including prime locations. However, a task force under the principal secretary (revenue) had pointed out that squatters were occupying about 70 per cent of these properties.
"The amount of encroachments is so large that the wakf board does not even have the actual information about this. Similarly, the wakf board does not have any precise information about encroachment-free land," says the report.
It stresses on the need to ascertain the extent of illegal occupation. The report says these encroachments must be cleared and legal action against the encroachers must be taken in three months time, while adopting measures to keep squatters at bay.
The cash-strapped wakf board can develop these properties for the benefit of the board as well as the community at large. The report also emphasises on the need for a drive to publicise information about the minority welfare department's schemes so that they reach the deserving people.
The report talks of an outlay for minorities in the budget similar to provisions for the SCs and STs, one hostel in each district for girls from the minority community, separate toilets for boys and girls in schools and declaring dargahs as tourist spots and accepting the Rajinder Sachar committee recommendations.
The committee has recommended that a review be conducted in three months of the land given out on rent by the wakf board and the amounts be hiked wherever necessary and that vacant posts in the board be filled up.
"The committee recommends that the government must provide all necessary logistics for removing the encroachments," the report says, while noting that the report of a committee set up to probe malpractices in the board was still under consideration of the government. It called on the state to submit a report to them on the progress and action taken in this regard.
What is Wakf
Wakf means the permanent dedication by a person professing Islam,of any movable or immovable property for any purpose recognised by the Muslim law as pious, religious or charitable. Across India, thousands of acres of land and hundreds of buildings having historical significance together make what the world knows as Muslim Awqaf. The institution of wakf in India is 800 years old. It began when Muslim rulers donated huge land parcels for charity.
Nothing pious about this
Maharashtra has around 93,418 acres of wakf land spread over 23,566 properties, with the maximum land parcels in Aurangabad division, which was part of the dominion of the Nizam of Hyderabad. However, 70% of these properties have been encroached upon
Revenue division Area (acres)