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Eknath Khadse takes stock of Ministry of Minorities Development
Mulls introduction of Urdu as optional subject in Marathi medium schools; Urdu medium schools up to HSC and online auction of Wakf lands
Saturday November 8, 2014 4:56 PM, & Agencies

Minister of Minorities Development Eknath Khadse Friday presided over the first meeting of the ministry officials and discussed a series of initiatives and projects to be taken immediately for the empowerment of the Muslim community, Urdu language and Wakf lands.

Eknath Khadse

Talking to the reporters after the meeting, Khadse said the state would regulate the leasing of Maharashtra Wakf Board lands to earn better revenue for projects aimed at upliftment of the Muslim community.

"Maharashtra has one lakh acres of Wakf land. Land is given to various organisations on lease, including educational institutions owned by politicians as per rules," Khadse told reporters at Mantralaya here.

Eknath Khadse asked Muslim Wakf Board officials to ensure that the state government's permission is obtained before leasing Wakf Board administered land to any organisation.

"I have told the officials during a meeting today (Friday) not to lease out land without state governme", he said.

"I have asked them to check if they could have lease through an auction," Khadse said, adding that bidding for such land could be conducted online.

The income accrued should be deposited to the Wakf Board, he said.

"Wakf Board officials said people could approach courts on the issued of lease period. I told them we will modify the rules if needed," he said.

"I told them to use funds for community development initiatives. So much money can be collected so that Muslims would not have to seek help from anywhere else," he said.

Khadse also said the state would make the Urdu language as an optional subject in Marathi schools.

"Urdu should not be limited to Muslims alone but should reach common man", he said.

"Urdu Academy programmes should go beyond poetry and "shayari" events and efforts should be made to popularise excellent old Urdu literary works", he said.

"The Maharashtra government would also allocate some seats in district-level polytechnics and also hostels for girls from the minority community", he said.

He also said the government will start government Urdu medium schools up to SSC and HSC. The state government currently has government schools only up to 7th standard.

Eknath Khadse is first non-Muslim who is heading the ministry. Ever since he was made in-charge of the ministry, his moves were keenly observed.

As the opposition leader, Khadse was a vocal opponent of Wakf misuse, and he criticised the erstwhile Cong-NCP government on the issue, especially when it handed over a Wakf land to Mukesh Ambani on throw-away price.

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