The Maharashtra government has decided to conduct a survey of Wakf (Muslim charity) land in order to ascertain encroachment on Wakf properties. The survey is going to be conducted after a gap of 14 years and is expected to be completed in the next two years.
Maharashtra has around one lakh-acre of Wakf land. These properties in the country are controlled by Wakf Act 1995. The Act has clear provisions that its properties cannot be leased out, transferred or exchanged and any such action shall be held illegal. Despite this, thousands of Wakf properties have been sold, transferred and encroached upon.
According to the statistics of the state minority affairs department, Maharashtra has around 93,418 acres of Wakf land (23,566 properties) with the maximum land parcels in Aurangabad division (57,802 acres), followed by 9,310 acres in Pune, 9,260 acres in Nagpur, 8,350 acres in Nashik, 5,941 acres in the Konkan and 2,755 acres in Amravati. The state Wakf board was set up in 2002.
On Tuesday, the state government decided to conduct a fresh survey of Wakf properties. A committee headed by settlement commissioner will complete the survey with the help of district collectors.
In the last survey conducted between 1997 and 2002, all its land till January 1, 1996 was marked as Wakf properties. Now, in the fresh survey all its land till December 31, 2015 and properties that were not accommodated in the previous survey for different reasons, will also be marked as Wakf properties, said a senior official from minority affairs department.
The objective of the survey is to ascertain how Wakf land is being encroached so that the state government initiates action to take back encroached properties, he explained.
Last year, Eknath Khadse, the then minority affairs minister had admitted that 70% of the Wakf land has been encroached upon.
To ensure that Wakf properties are not misappropriated, the state revenue department in April this year had directed all the collectors to change title of Wakf land in the records as ‘Wakf property — prohibited for any kind of transaction’. Later, inspector general of registration (IGR) Ramaswami N was also directed to disallow stamp duty registration of land deals pertaining to Wakf properties henceforth.