The fate of Haj 2018 policy remains uncertain | mumbai news | Hindustan Times
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The fate of Haj 2018 policy remains uncertain

The uncertainty follows from a 2012 Supreme Court order that directed the central government to gradually reduce and eventually abolish Haj subsidy by the year 2020.

mumbai Updated: Nov 12, 2017 22:42 IST
Yesha Kotak
The minister for minority affairs shared plans of launching ‘digital Haj 2018’
The minister for minority affairs shared plans of launching ‘digital Haj 2018’(File photo for representation)

Will the central government retain the travel subsidy given to Haj pilgrims in the coming year? The uncertainty follows a 2012 Supreme Court order that directed the central government to gradually reduce and eventually abolish Haj subsidy by the year 2020.

The minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi gave an ambiguous response when the question was raised at Mumbai’s Haj House on Sunday. Naqvi, who was thereto announce the registration process for Haj 2018,said that the policy on Haj subsidy would be announced at a later date. He added that subsidy provided in the previous years was not distributed equitably, as many Hajis did not benefit from the subsidies.

Chief executive officer of Haj Committee of India (HCOI), Maqsood Ahmed Khan, in an interaction with HT, said that they were revising the air fare to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (where the pilgrims disembark) given that they are not expecting a subsidy this year. “ If the subsidy is at all declared at a later date, we will distribute the amount among the pilgrims accordingly,” he said.

During the announcement, Naqvi added that the 21 embarkation points in the country used by pilgrims to travel to Saudi Arabia will be retained, but subsidised travel, currently offered for 12 of these, will be discontinued. While Saudi Arabia fixes a quota for pilgrims from India, travellers using the government share of the quota get subsidy on air fare.

Naqvi, with the aim to launch ‘Digital Haj 2018’, introduced a revamped mobile app which would accept Haj application forms. Mehboob Ali Kaiser, Chairman, HCOI, said, “The Haj committee uploads around five lakh forms every year manually. The online process would make our task easier.”

Clarifying the question of whether a woman above the age of 45 would require a mehram (next of kin male companion), Kaiser said women in a group of four would be allowed to travel without a male companion. He added that they were working on simplifying the process of immigration for pilgrims to save time after landing in Saudi.

Registration for Haj 2018 will start on November 15 and continue till December 7.