Parliament today passed a bill to check rampant encroachment of Waqf properties and to make them commercially viable by extending their lease period to a maximum of 30 years.
The Waqf Amendment Bill, 2010, which was passed by Rajya Sabha last month, got Lok Sabha's nod today.
Replying to a debate on the bill, Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan said the provisions in the new bill will enable the authorities to remove illegal encroachment of thousands of acres of Waqf properties.
Provisions in the new law will help Waqf authorities to effectively utilise hundreds of acres of unutilised Waqf land across the country, he said.
The bill to bring changes in the Waqf Act, 1995, carries proposals to strengthen Waqf institutions and streamline their functioning.
The measure was passed by Lok Sabha in May 2010, but referred to a Select Committee when it came up in Rajya Sabha in August that year amid objections to some of its provisions from some Muslim bodies including All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
The Minister commended the efforts of the committee as well as the Joint Parliamentary Committee which suggested several amendments.
Khan said the Central and state governments are made responsible for conducting the survey of the Waqf properties.
Noting that around 123 Waqf properties are being encroached upon in Delhi alone, the Minister sought the cooperation of BJP to evict the illegal occupants.
Initiating the discussion on the bill, Syed Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) said the Muslim community continues to remain backward and sought steps to protect their interests.
Raising concerns about encroachment of various Waqf properties in different parts of the country, he urged the government to make sure that the encroachers are evicted.
In many cases, governments and other agencies have encroached Waqf properties, he said.
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