February 23, 2015 6:08:53 pm
Minority Affairs Minister Eknath Khadse has suggested changes in the prevailing laws to facilitate acquisition of private land for burial grounds for minority communities at market rates in wake of the severe shortage of government land across Maharashtra.
Khadse said, “There is a growing demand for more space for burial grounds within the minority communities across state. However, shortage of government land makes it difficult for us to sanction them. The only alternative is to purchase the private land which is in surplus at market rates for the “kabrastan” where ever it is necessary.”
The minister said, “In most cases there are issues of encroachments. However, if we make provision to allow purchase of land at market rates from private owner, it would resolve the problem and also help the community.”
The average population of Muslims in Maharashtra is 18.5 per cent according to government statistics. The demand for new burial ground is high in Marathwada, Western Maharashtra, Konkan, Vidarbha and North Maharashtra.
According to former State Minorities Commission Chairperson Munaf Hakkim, “In the last 10 to 15 years we have not been able to sanction or make operational a single new burial ground. “Although a kabrasthan always is sanctioned in the new district plans which is mandatory, it often lands in local disputes,” Hakkim laments. “ Even the Wakf land has sizeable illegal encroachment making it difficult to allocate for kabrastan.”
While acknowledging that with the growing population and expansion of districts the demand for burial ground is natural as in case of crematoriums, he said, “ What makes the issue of kabrasthan more sensitive is the local protest which forces the civic bodies to keep the decision on hold or not take it on urgent basis.”
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