Of the 30,000-plus imams entitled to a monthly honorarium of Rs 2,500 with effect from April 14,only 12 got Rs 1,417 each today. There is no word yet on muezzins,who were supposed to get a stipend of Rs 1,000 each.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that Muslim clerics would get their honorarium through the Waqf Board with effect from Bengali New Year Day (April 14). However,elaborate paperwork,case investigations and dearth of manpower in the Waqf Board have led to a delay in approval of applications,sources said.
The minorities department sanctioned Rs 30 crore to the Waqf Board for the scheme,but the board has not yet received the money,the sources added.
We paid 12 imams Rs 1,417 each through bank credit today. The honorarium is for April 14 to April 30. Other cases are being processed. In many cases,verification is pending. In some masjids there are three imams but only one from every masjid will be the beneficiary. That has to be ascertained, said Md Abdul Gani,chairman,Waqf Board.
He also said that although Rs 30 crore had been sanctioned,they were yet to receive the money. At the moment we are paying the imams out of the Waqf Board fund, he said.
About the muezzins,he said he had heard the CMs announcement for Rs 1,000 stipend for them,but his department had not received any official notification.
Although there is no fixed number of muezzins who are to get the benefits,officials said if there are 30,000-plus imams (one for every masjid),there had to be an equal number of muezzins. For every masjid,there has to be one muezzin who is supposed to say the azaan or call for prayers.
Going by that logic,there would be over 30,000 muezzins as well,but the survey process is on. Applications are coming in,we will verify the cases and then determine a figure. Some popular masjids already get a lot of money and will not be interested in applying, said Mutalib Ali Sardar,director (minorities).
In some masjids,the imam and the muezzin are the same person. Those cases needed to be sorted out as well, he added.