The government has decided to raise Haj subsidy to help 1.1 lakh pilgrims after air fares rose because of increasing fuel prices.
An expert committee had recommended a marginal increase from Rs 12,000 to Rs 16,000 in the subsidised air fare charged for the round trip to Jeddah/Medina, but the cabinet ruled against it.
The decision would cost the public exchequer nearly Rs 40 crore, up from Rs 343 crore earlier.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said a large number of the 1.1 lakh people who availed themselves of the subsidised air fare were from the poor and middle classes. “The Union Cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided not to increase the air fares in spite of recommendations of the experts’ committee,” Dasmunsi said.
The committee’s recommendation had followed an analysis of the inflationary trends in the economy.