Elected board primarily concerned about the low rents likely to be realised from the deal
The Telangana State Waqf Board (TSWB), several months after ruling out the possibility of leasing its properties to the Telangana Minorities Residential Educational Institutions Society (TMREIS), has taken the proverbial U-turn.
The Muslim Endowments panel passed a resolution which would soon enable leasing of land parcels under its custody to TMREIS for up to 30 years, and at low rents.
While a resolution was passed recently, Waqf protection activists have raised concerns over the move. It was in 2019 that the idea of allotting Waqf land parcels to the TMREIS on lease was first floated. However, this had met with stiff resistance within the elected board, primarily over concerns about low rents which were likely to be paid.
“It is strange that this is happening again. It appears that there is some pressure on the board from higher authorities. Why should Waqf land parcels be given? Are there no other government lands which can be allotted to TMREIS? Are other government-run schools being constructed on community lands? The rentals should be at prevailing market rates,” said Congress leader and Deccan Waqf Protection Society office-bearer Osman al Hajiri.
According to sources from the board, some of the nine land parcels in Hyderabad, and its outskirts which are likely to be given on lease include two land parcels in Karwan – those endowed to the Kulsumpura Jama Masjid and the famed Toli Masjid – Pedda Amberpet, and Pahadi Shareef.
Additionally, 20 Waqf land parcels in other districts of Telangana have been identified for this purpose.
While Telangana State Waqf Board Chairman Mohammed Saleem was contacted, he did not comment on the issue and stated he was busy preparing for an event scheduled on Wednesday, a source from the board who did not wish to be identified said, “The Waqf Act specifically deals with the leasing of lands in its custody. While now lease for up to 30 years can be executed, there are other factors, such as calling for open tenders. The issue of leasing land parcels on nomination basis is yet to be looked into. We are being told that the lease per acre per annum is likely to be ₹ 10,000, which is low. Concrete steps in terms of discussion and paper work with TMREIS are yet to be taken. ”
Another source from the board said that leasing its land parcels to TMREIS would protect them from encroachments. This, the source added, was the need of the hour.
“It is well known that over 70% of Waqf lands in Telangana are encroached. Having a government-run entity would ensure protection. Once the lease runs its course, the buildings constructed on the Waqf land will be Waqf,” he said.
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