Prime Minister’s address at the inauguration of National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO)

Following is the text of Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh’s address at the inauguration of National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO) in New Delhi on 29th January 2014:

“Today we take another step forward in our efforts to promote the interests of minorities in our country. I am delighted to be part of this function to mark the commencement of the activities of the National Waqf Development Corporation (NAWADCO). This, as all of you know, is an institution which our Government has established for the development of waqf properties for the benefit of the Muslim community.

It is only befitting that today also happens to be the 8th anniversary of the establishment of the separate Ministry of Minority Affairs. We had taken this important step within 2 years of the 1st UPA Government, signaling early on that we were determined to do everything possible to look after the special need of minorities for the development. The National Waqf Development Corporation also exemplifies this commitment of our Government.

I would like to take this opportunity to compliment my friend and colleague Rahman Khan sahib and his team in the Ministry of Minority Affairs for the excellent work that they have been doing. NAWADCO is just one of the several far reaching initiatives that the Ministry of Minority Affairs has taken ever since its inception in the year 2006.

This Corporation has been established with an authorized share capital of Rs.500 Crore. It will facilitate and mobilize financial resources for setting up of facilities like schools, colleges, hospitals on waqf properties for community purposes in a transparent manner.

I have been told that there are more than 4.9 lakh registered waqf properties in India today which fetch an annual income of about Rs.163 crore. Many of these properties have the potential of generating considerable returns, which in turn could be used for the socio-economic 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. 12000 crore, assuming an annual return of 10 percent on the value of the property. It is this vast potential that NAWADCO will strive to realize.

Our Government has also recently amended the Waqf Act. The amendments are expected to bring transparency in administration of waqf properties and provide an enabling environment for the development and utilization of waqf lands to the benefit of the Muslim community.

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. The Council is now empowered to issue directives to State Waqf Boards on their performance, particularly on their financial performance, survey of waqf properties, maintenance of waqf deeds, and prevention of encroachment of waqf properties.

Keeping in view the need to prevent their alienation, ‘Sale’, ‘Gift’, ‘Mortgage’ and ‘Exchange’ of waqf properties have been made void ab initio. The process of leasing of waqf properties has been made transparent.

NAWADCO adds to these efforts and I am sure that the Corporation will make full use of the enabling environment for the development of waqf properties that we have provided by amending the Waqf Act.

The UPA Government has been unwavering in its commitment for the protection and promotion of the interests of minorities. As I had stated in a conference of State Minorities Commission a few days back, we have implemented most of the recommendations of the Sachar Committee. The 15 point program and the Multi-sectoral Development Program are large initiatives focused on removing the development deficit which some minorities suffer from. Another important intervention has been the scholarship schemes for children from the minority communities.

Let me end by wishing NAWADCO and the Ministry of Minority Affairs all success in their noble initiatives. I am sure that their work will contribute very substantially to the socio economic development of the minority communities in all parts of our country.

Thank you. Jai Hind.”

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