Scores of dargahs in the State continue to get a paltry grant of Rs. 400 to Rs. 600 per quarter from the government for maintenance of the institutions.
With this amount the Sajjada Nasheen and Muthawallis are supposed to provide food and shelter to the visiting pilgrims, arrange lighting at the shrine, put up tents during the annual ‘Urs’ ceremony besides providing facilities to religious scholars and VIPs.
Cash grant fixed in 1955
The cash grant (Mahal-e-Sharth) was fixed under the Jagir Commutation Act way back in 1955 after all the ‘jagirs’ stood vested with the government. Though the cost of living has gone up and the income from ‘jagir’ has also shot up yet the cash grant remains the same.
Devotees cutting across religion and region visit the shrines and the Muthawallis are unable to provide basic facilities in absence of sufficient grant, it is said.
With the A.P. State Minorities Commission intervening in the matter, hopes of dargah caretakers have been raised.
The Commission has issued notices to the Secretaries of Minorities Welfare Department, Revenue and Commissioner, Survey, Settlement and Jagir Administrator seeking their remarks before February 1 in the matter.
There are more than 100 such ancient dargahs in the State which receive the ‘jagir’ commutation payment towards rendering service.
“During the last 55 years there were nine PRCs and each time there has been substantial enhancement in it but there is no hike in the cash grant given to ‘jagir’ commutation pensioners,” says Abul Fateh Syed Bandagi Badesha Quadri, a ‘jagir’ commutation holder.
“Mahal-e-Sharth can’t be changed”
The ‘jagir’ administrator, however, maintained that it is not possible to enhance the ‘Mahal-e-Sharth’ since it is determined on permanent basis and cannot be changed with the changing rates.
“But the Karnataka government enhanced the cash grant in 2006 and not doing so is against the spirit of Article 14 of Constitution,” says Mr. Quadri, who is also Sajjada Nasheen of Dargah Balkonda Shareef, Nizamabad.
Rs. 25,000 p.m. sought
Many ‘jagir’ commutation holders feel the government should enhance the grant to at least Rs. 25,000 per month and arrange payment through the Minorities Welfare Department which has sufficient budget at its disposal.
The Minorities Welfare Department can be reimbursed the money later by the Revenue Department. This way the benefit could be availed by the dargah caretakers from this budgetary year itself, it is said.