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Eyeing minority votes, PM bats for Waqf interests

On Wednesday, the prime minister Manmohan Singh started his address at the inauguration of National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO) with the following words: ‘We take another step forward in our efforts to promote the interests of minorities in our country.’

Launching the National Waqf Development Corporation Ltd in New Delhi, Singh said it will help facilitate and mobilise financial resources for opening and developing schools, colleges and hospitals on Waqf properties in a transparent manner. The function was, however, momentarily marred by a protestor.

During the speech, Singh said, ‘There are more than 4.9 lakh registered Waqf properties in India today, which fetch an annual income of about Rs 163 crore.’ He went on to say, ‘Many of these properties have the potential of generating considerable returns, which in turn could be used for the socioeconomic development of the Muslim community.’

‘As per the estimates of the Sachar Committee, if these properties are properly developed, they could fetch an annual income of about Rs 12,000 crore, assuming an annual return of 10 per cent on the value of the property. It is this vast potential that NAWADCO will strive to realise,’ added Singh.

Singh said the Congress-led UPA government had also amended the Waqf Act making it more ‘transparent’. ‘The amended Act has particularly strengthened the role of Central Waqf Council (CWC), which was established to advise the government on matters pertaining to the working of state Waqf boards and proper administration of Waqf properties,’ said Singh. In the past, there have been controversies regarding several prime Waqf properties being allotted by the government to powerful people with commercial interests.
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