Narendra Modi wants waqf properties to finance minority welfare

New Delhi, Iftikhar Gilani: In a first major step towards protecting and developing waqf (endowment) properties, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has accepted a long-pending demand of the Muslim community to draw up a plan for their development and commercial exploitation. The minority affairs ministry has engaged Deloitte Consultants India to formulate plans for the development of waqf properties all over India as institutional and commercial projects to make them profitable, with the goal of ploughing back profits to help the Muslim community. Waqf is earmarking of part of one’s property in perpetuity for charitable purposes and community welfare.


Government sources here said the consultancy firm outside the government was chosen as not much progress has been made by the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO) set up by the previous UPA government. The market value of waqf properties has been estimated at a whooping Rs 1.2 lakh crore by the Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee in 2006. According to Dr Manzoor Alam, chairman of think-tank Institute of Objective Studies (IOS), these properties have the potential to generate a minimum return of 10 per cent, which is about Rs 12,000 crore per annum, to finance all minority-related welfare programmes. He, however, said the optimum utilisation of waqf properties would require proper administrative backup by both the central and state governments as well as legislative support.

Over the past two years since its inception, the NAWADCO, could identify only four properties for development: three in Bangalore and one at Jodhpur. It has already started the process for putting Jodhpur’s Takiya Chand Shah waqf property to commercial use while the Bangalore properties under the plan are Gulistan Shadi Mahal, Masjid-e-Mavalli and Dargah Hazrat Attaullah Shah.

Sources said the minority affairs ministry would now expedite working of NAWADCO once it receives the Deloitte recommendations. It has also convened a meeting of the Maulana Azad Education Foundation (MAEF) to discuss the Tata Institute of Social Science (TISS) report on how it should promote education among the educational backward minorities.

The ministry had entrusted TISS to study the working of MAEF after it received several complaints of mismanagement, corruption and severe shortage of manpower over the past few years. The foundation is headed by the minority affairs minister and managed by a joint secretary-level officer designated as its secretary. It suffered since the post of secretary, who is the administrative head, was lying vacant for over a year. TISS has suggested a definite road map for revamping MAEF through a process that should be completed in six to eight months, the sources added.