Monday, 28 January 2008

Executive powers to the AP Wakf Board still a far cry

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Jan 28: The State government has sought the concurrence of the Centre to amend the Andhra Pradesh Public Premises Act to provide executive powers to the State Wakf Board.
The State Wakf Board does not have executive powers unlike the endowments department, which controls Hindu religious properties. In the absence of executive powers, the Wakf Board finds its difficult to initiate legal and official proceedings against those who have encroached upon its properties.
Andhra Pradesh Wakf Board is the biggest Muslim endowment body in the country with more than 60,000 listed properties spread over around 1.50 lakh acres. But most of its properties are under illegal occupation.
Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy told a delegation of Muslim MLCs on Monday that the State government was awaiting concurrence from the Central government on the Wakf issue. AICC member and Congress MLC Mohammad Sultan Ahmed later told reporters that since Wakf affairs are covered under concurrent list, the State government has to get the nod from the Centre before it goes ahead with amendment to the Wakf Act.
The government has also ordered reconciliation of Wakf Board land records with those of the Revenue department to ensure that revenue and Wakf records contain the same data and information. He said the chief minister had agreed for digitisation of all Wakf records for easy reference and accessibility.
According to sources, the Central government has withheld its decision on the State government's request for concurrence to amend the Wakf Act on the grounds that Wakf properties are not state-owned and the properties are covered under the Wakf Act, 1995. Pending decision by the Centre, the State government plans to appoint three sub-divisional magistrates exclusively to attend to the eviction of encroachment of Wakf properties.

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