Punjab has the highest number of Waqf Board properties under encroachment with such properties numbering around 17,000 across the country, the government told Parliament on Thursday.
In a written reply to BJP MP Ajay Nishad's question, Minorities Affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told the Lok Sabha that a total of 16,937 Waqf Board properties were under encroachment in the country, including 5,610 in Punjab.
Punjab is followed by Madhya Pradesh (3240), West Bengal (3082), Tamil Nadu(1335) and Karnataka (862), showed the data on 24 state Waqf Board properties furnished by the ministry. In the national capita, the Delhi Waqf Board has 373 properties under encroachment.
To protect the Waqf Board properties and to prevent their encroachment, a dedicated online portal - WAMSI (Waqf Assets Management System of India) - has been developed, Naqvi said.
So far, 5,94,139 immovable Waqf properties have been registered on the portal, he added.
An intensive campaign for digitisation of records of Waqf estates was conducted from July to October, as a result of which 98.99 per cent records have been digitised, the minister said.
The state Waqf Boards have also been advised to undertake GIS mapping of their properties on top priority, he added.
As per the Waqf Act, superintendence of all Waqf properties in states is vested with the state Waqf Boards which are empowered to manage and take legal action against unauthorised occupation and encroachment of such properties.
Any sale, gift, exchange, mortgage or transfer of Waqf property is banned as per Section 51(IA) of the Waqf Act.
Any movable or immovable property donated for religious or charitable purpose is considered as Waqf property in Islamic law.