Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi says airlines carrying Haj pilgrims will be paid Rs 57 crore less in fares this year
Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced a reduction in the funds spent on air fares of Haj pilgrims as compared to 2017
New Delhi: Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said Rs 57 crore less will be paid to airlines in 2018 for Haj pilgrims travelling through the Haj Committee of India even after the ending of subsidy for the pilgrimage.
He said that despite the removal of the Haj subsidy and various new taxes imposed in Saudi Arabia, Indians were going for the pilgrimage without any additional financial burden. At a training camp for Haj Coordinators, Assistant Haj Officers or Haj Assistants here, the Union minister said that for the first time after the Independence, a record 1,75,025 Indians were going for Haj in 2018, of which 47 percent are female, which is another record.
In 2017, Rs 1,030 crore was paid to airlines as air fare for 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims, while in 2018, Rs 973 crore will be paid to airlines for 1,28,702 Haj pilgrims travelling through the Haj Committee of India, Naqvi said. "Rs 57 crore less will be paid to airlines in 2018 even after ending the Haj subsidy," a statement from his office quoted the minister as saying at the event.
The government had in January announced that there would be no subsidy for Haj from 2018 and the funds saved will be used for providing education to people belonging to minority communities. The decision was in line with a 2012 Supreme Court order, asking the government to do away with the subsidy.
Naqvi said in total 3,55,604 applications had been received for Haj, which included 1,89,217 male and 1,66,387 female. For the first time, Muslim women from India are going for Haj without 'Mehram' (male companion). A total of 1,308 women are going for Haj this year without 'Mehram', he said, adding a large number of women Haj coordinators, Haj Assistants and 'Khadim Ul Hujjaj', doctors and para-medics have been deployed in Saudi Arabia.
A total of 98 Assistant Haj Officers, Haj Assistants, Haj Coordinators, doctors and para-medics have been deployed to assist the pilgrims. This time, pilgrims were also given a choice of embarkation points, a step which has received an overwhelming response, Naqvi said.
At the event on Sunday, representatives from the Minority Affairs Ministry, Health Ministry and Urban Development Ministry informed the attendees in detail, various issues concerning Haj pilgrims, such as their health, safety and accommodation.
Flights for Haj will start from 14 July, when pilgrims from Delhi, Gaya, Guwahati, Lucknow and Srinagar will embark on pilgrimage. On 17 July pilgrims from Kolkata, on 20 July those from Varanasi, on 21 July from Mangalore, on 26 July from Goa and on 29 July pilgrims from Aurangabad, Chennai, Mumbai and Nagpur, will embark on Haj, a statement from the minister's office said.
On 30 July, pilgrims from Ranchi, on 1 Augustpilgrims from Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cochin, Hyderabad and Jaipur, and on 3 August, pilgrims from Bhopal, will go for Haj, it said.
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Haj subsidy scrapped: K Palaniswamy says Tamil Nadu government to urge Centre to reconsider decision
Tamil Nadu government will urge the Centre to reconsider its decison on scrapping the Haj subsidy, Chief Minister K Palaniswami said.
A large group of Congress workers staged a demonstration on Thursday protesting the withdrawal of subsidy for Haj pilgrims, by the Centre.
The CPM alleged that the government's move to withdraw the subsidy for Haj was "arbitrary and motivated by other considerations".