The Centre is planning to utilize idle waqf land across India for commercial purposes for the development of the Muslim community.
According to an India Today report, the Union Ministry of Minority Affairs has identified 2000 such properties which will be made into part educational and part commercial establishments.
The Union Minister of Minority Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, said that the properties have the “potential of generating an income of over Rs.10,000 crore per year”, with “the entire revenue going to state governments”.
“There are nearly as many as 5 lakh registered waqf properties in the country while the current annual income from these properties is roughly about 150 crore,” he said.
“Some of these properties are prime real estate but are just lying idle,” Naqvi said.
The minister said that even the Sachar Committee had suggested that waqf properties, which have a total area of six lakh acre worth lakhs of crores according to the minister, be made profitable.
Commercial establishments include construction of cinema halls and shopping malls while educational institutions will include colleges, hostels and training centres for minority community.
According to the report, waqf boards of various states might object to the government’s move.
It should be noted here that the idea of utilizing the waqf properties for commercial purposes first came in 2013 during the UPA-II government. The then minority affairs minister K. Rahman Khan has sent circulars to 30 state waqf boards to “provide a list of land/unused real estate properties under their jurisdiction which can be used for commercial purposes to build malls, shopping complexes, hotels, nursing homes and social institutions like schools and IT training centres for Muslim youth”.
Some sites had been identified under the then government.