Saturday, 26 March 2011

Andhra Pradesh Wakf Board fights long drawn battle with government on Manikonda Jagir lands

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 26: With the State government and the State Wakf Board fighting a long-drawn battle on the title of about 1600 acres of prime land in Manikonda area of the city, Wakf activists demand that the government should hand over the land to the Board.

The AP High Court way back in 1959 declared in writ petition No. 666 that the land under Manikonda jagir belonged to the State Wakf Board. The State government later issued a gazette notification identifying the land as that of the State Wakf Board.

Much to the chagrin of the State Wakf Board, the State government allocated the land to a number of IT firms saying that the land was part of the inam jagir, and hence it belonged to the revenue department. But the Wakf Board says its lands are exempted under the Jagir Abolition Act.

"It is a Wakf property notified in the State Gazette. For obvious reasons the Wakf Board is not making a strong case. If the Board comes out of political pressures, and argues its case effectively, it will be richer by at least 30,000 crore," says Wakf protection and RTI activist Mohsin Bin Hussain Al Kasiri.

After declaring it as the revenue land, the government allocated it to the APIIC, which in turn sold it away to several IT firms at a throwaway price. In one instance, the government sold away 7.13 acres of land whose market value is about Rs 150 crore for just Rs 87.50 lakh. Though the price fixed was Rs 2.05 crore, the government offered a rebate of Rs 1.17 crore if the IT firm employed 1350 people.

"Even before the firm could fulfil its promise, the government provided the rebate in advance and registered the land for just Rs 87.50 lakh. The tribunal will decide whether it is a government or a Wakf land, but selling it for a throwaway price and offering advance rebate is a clear violation of law," a senior advocate, who has been fighting for Wakf lands, pointed out.

The AP State Wakf Board has the largest number of Muslim endowed properties in the country and yet it's annual income is quite meagre enough to meet the salaries of the staff. This is because most of the Wakf lands have been either encroached upon or given on lease on a paltry sum. A part of the Wakf land is in dispute with the revenue department laying claim over it.


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