Ahead of the general elections, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiled the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO), a new central public sector enterprise under the Ministry of Minority Affairs, on Wednesday.
Reports from the Karnataka government indicate major irregularities had taken place between 2001 and 2012 while transferring waqf land to private parties through mutation, which caused a loss of around Rs 2 lakh crore to the exchequer. It was found waqf properties had been misused, sold and transferred with their proceeds unaccounted for, across the country.
The government stepped in and passed the Waqf (Amendment) Act, 2013, which is expected to make administration of waqf properties transparent and provide an environment for development and utilisation there for welfare of the minority community.
The creation of a Rs 500-crore NAWADCO is structured to facilitate and mobilise financial resources for the development of Waqf properties for community development purposes in joint ventures with state/Union Territory waqf boards and mutawallis (managers). Waqf boards and mutawallis had no resources to develop the property for community purposes till now.
NAWADCO has been set up on a recommendation of the Sachar committee. India has the largest number of waqf properties in the world. There are 490,000 registered waqf properties and the current annual income from these is about Rs 163 crore. The Sachar committee has estimated such properties, if properly developed, with a minimum return of 10 per cent, would be able to generate at least Rs 12,000 crore per annum.
“Waqf” means the permanent dedication by a person professing Islam, of any movable or immovable property, for any purpose recognised by the Muslim law — auspicious, religious or charitable.
The person who has dedicated the property of movable or immovable for any of the above categories is called “Wakif” or donor. Once a property is dedicated the donor loses all rights over the land and such property cannot be alienated, mortgaged or transferred without the prior permission of the Waqf Board.