Andhra drops plans to develop Knowledge City on Wakf land

November 4th, 2008 - 3:52 pm ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, Nov 4 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh government has dropped plans to develop a Knowledge City on land owned by the Muslim Wakf Board at Aloor near here after the clerics refused to transfer the title of the land to state-owned corporation.Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) planned to develop the Knowledge City on 1,200 acres of Wakf land at Aloor, about 60 km from here, with an investment of Rs.1 billion.

The project was expected to fetch a total revenue of Rs.7.73 billion, to be shared in the ratio of 75:25 between the Wakf board and APIIC.

While APIIC insisted that the title of the Wakf land be transferred to it so that investors could be convinced to pump in their money, the clerics ruled that the title could not be transferred but offered to allow the government to use the land for generating revenue to spend the same on welfare of Muslims.

The cleric and public representatives have made it clear to the government that the Wakf Board could not transfer the land to any agency. At a meeting called by the Minister for Minorities Welfare Mohammed Ali Shabbir Monday, they opposed APIIC’s plans to acquire the land.

The corporation had offered to deposit Rs.500 million towards compensation for the land acquisition. APIIC managing director B.P. Acharya had said that the corporation would pay Rs.300,000 per acre each to 485 occupants of the land and Rs.200,000 per acre to the Wakf Board. A part of the Wakf land is under encroachment.

Shabbir had said that the government intended to develop the project as a role model for utilising the Wakf properties.

Prominent clerics, however, declared that Wakf properties could not be sold. They also pointed out that under the Wakf Act, the board’s properties could be leased out to others only for a period of three years and the same could be extended thereafter.

The Wakf land was recently offered to the Tatas to set up their small car Nano project.

Prime Wakf lands worth billions of rupees in and around Hyderabad were either encroached upon or acquired during the last few decades. Muslim leaders alleged that the Wakf Board either failed to protect the properties or sold them to various companies at throwaway prices.

As many as 300,000 acre of Wakf land in the state is locked up in various disputes. A majority of this land is in urban locations, like Hyderabad and Visakhapatanam.

Muslim political party Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) and other organisations have claimed that the government was the biggest encroacher of Wakf lands and allots them to multinational companies and institutes like the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad.

MIM alleged that the government alienated 11,000 acres of Wakf land worth over Rs.200 billion to various companies in and around Hyderabad.

The allotment of 40 acres of Wakf land in Hyderabad to Lanco group of companies owned by Congress MP L. Rajagopal has also sparked a row and the Congress government is under pressure to take back the land.

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