Many encroachers have grabbed lakhs of acres of ‘Nizam’s Wakf Lands’ in Hyderabad, Telangana. The Wakf Board, which is responsible for managing the properties, has been unable to do so due to lack of funds and staff.

The Wakf Board has estimated that around 20 lakh acres of land have been encroached upon in the state. Of this, around 10 lakh acres are in Hyderabad alone. The Board has identified around 1,500 cases of encroachments, but has been able to recover only a small fraction of the land.

The main reason for the encroachments is the lack of funds and staff. The Wakf Board has a budget of just Rs 100 crore, which is not enough to manage the vast amount of land under its control. The Board also has a shortage of staff, with only around 1,000 employees to manage over 20 lakh acres of land.

The lack of funds and staff has led to the Wakf Board being unable to take action against encroachers. The Board has filed cases in court, but these cases have been pending for years. In some cases, the encroachers have even built structures on the land, making it difficult for the Board to recover it.

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The encroachments have had a negative impact on the state’s economy. The Wakf Board estimates that the government has lost around Rs 10,000 crore in revenue due to the encroachments. The encroachments have also deprived the poor and needy of the benefits that they would have received from the Wakf properties.

The government has taken some steps to address the issue of encroachments. In 2016, the government constituted a special task force to recover the encroached land. The task force has so far recovered around 2,000 acres of land.

The government has also proposed a new law to protect the Wakf properties. The proposed law would make it a crime to encroach on Wakf land. The law would also make it mandatory for the government to provide security to Wakf properties.

The government’s efforts to recover the encroached land are welcome. However, more needs to be done to address the issue. The government needs to provide more funds and staff to the Wakf Board. The government also needs to enact the proposed law to protect the Wakf properties.

On the other hand, the vast tracts of prime land donated by the Nizam VII, Mir Osman Ali Khan, as waqf (endowment) have simply disappeared from official records or encroached upon by influential people.

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Of the 62 major properties in the city endowed by the last ruler of the princely state of Hyderabad, 26 are under illegal occupation. This is apart from the 2,132 acres of Nizam land near Pahadishariff that has been taken over by the state government.

State waqf board has failed in its task if one takes into account the vast stretches of waqf land under illegal occupation. The properties endowed by the Nizam are mostly mosques, graveyards, and dargahs. The Nizam waqf properties are indirectly controlled by state waqf board. A separate panel, Nizam Auqaf Committee, is the custodian and answerable to the board.

The Nizam’s heirs now demand that waqf board should remove the encroachments and take possession of land parcels sold by the state government. In a few cases, government itself claimed ownership over waqf land parcels as the waqf board failed to reconcile its records with those of the revenue department.

Nizam’s grandson, Nawab Mir Najaf Ali Khan, squarely blames the state government, waqf board and the Nizam Auqaf Committee for the encroachments and illegal sale of prime properties. “Supreme Court has made it clear that `once a waqf is created, it cannot be subsequently transferred or extinguished even by the maker of the will’. The properties listed as waqf by the religious department (Umoor-e-Mazhabi) during Nizam’s regime with Patta Pahanis (revenue records) were claimed by the state government as its own.

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The government claims to have purchased some of the land parcels way back in 1956, but the state gazette published on February 9, 1989, listed the waqf board as the custodian,“ said Najaf Ali Khan.

Referring to the Pahadishariff land, the Nizam’s grandson said the state government took its possession and made allocations at different stages without the knowledge of the Mutavalli concerned and the waqf board.

“The government changed the survey number and allotted 1,051 acres to the Hyderabad airport at Shamshabad, 981acres to APIIC and 98 acres for housing, roads and school,“ he said.

As the state government has proposed to conduct a resurvey of all lands in Telangana, particularly Hyderabad and surrounding areas, the Nizam’s family members demand that it should also include the Nizam’s waqf lands and all land parcels mentioned in the Blue Book, a record of Nizam assets recognised by the Central government. ■ #hydnews #KhabarLive

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A senior journalist having 25 years of experience in national and international publications and media houses across the globe in various positions. A multi-lingual personality with desk multi-tasking skills. He belongs to Hyderabad in India. Ahssanuddin's work is driven by his desire to create clarity, connection, and a shared sense of purpose through the power of the written word. His background as an writer informs his approach to writing. Years of analyzing text and building news means that adapting to a reporting voice, tone, and unique needs comes as second nature.