The formation of the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited could help Waqf property managers collect more revenue to help poor Muslims in India. [Narinder Nanu/AFP]
Indian Muslims are optimistic the newly formed National Waqf Development Corporation Limited (NAWADCO) will help alleviate Muslim poverty.
"This corporation has been established with an authorised share capital of Rs.500 crore ($80.2m), which will facilitate and mobilise financial resources for setting up of facilities like schools, colleges, and hospitals on Waqf properties for community purposes," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said during the January 29th inauguration at Vigyan Bhawan.
NAWADCO will function under the Ministry of Minorities Affairs to develop Waqf properties.
It will work with Waqf Boards in each Indian state to run and manage affairs in a proper and transparent manner.
The properties are buildings and land parcels donated by Muslims to help lift fellow Muslims from poverty. Over the years, such properties have been transferred to mosques, madrassas, shrines, graveyards and orphanages both to help those sites support themselves and needy Muslims. Going forward, Waqf Boards can no longer sell, lease, or rent properties without oversight.
"The huge chunk of properties, land and movable assets of Waqf are in miserable condition. I believe the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited will put them in order and restructure them in the larger interest of the community," Jamia Millia Islamia University geography professor Haseena Hashia told Khabar South Asia. "Waqf assets and their revenue are only meant for the betterment of underprivileged Muslims."
Re-organise and modernise
The management of Waqf boards needs to be re-organised and modernised, former Deutsche Bank Managing Director Syed Zafar Islam said.
"I expect that the National Waqf Development Corporation Limited will be able to make proper use of Waqf assets so that it will become a self-reliant financial institution for Muslims," he said.
According to Sachar Committee findings, Waqf properties are capable of generating more than Rs. 120 billion ($1.93 billion) annually. India has 490,000 registered Waqf properties, with the current revenue at about Rs.1.63 billion ($26.2m).
"The Waqf properties and lands are sufficient enough to take care of the problems of the poor Muslims if managed properly," India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC) Chairman Sirajuddin Qureshi agreed. "The income incurred from these assets should be solely utilised on education and health care, as many Muslims suffer due to a lack of essential services."
Social activist Faizan Haider Naqvi told Khabar NAWADCO should be granted powers to control vacated buildings and use them to generate revenue.