13 women among 650 caretakers who will assist 1.75L Haj pilgrims from India
Statistics available with Haj committee reveals pilgrims from Indore, Goa, Aurangabad and Bhopal have chosen to leave from Mumbai this yearmumbai Updated: Apr 23, 2018 00:04 IST
Announcing provisions for Haj pilgrims, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said 1.75 lakh people registered for the pilgrimage this year after Saudi government increased the pilgrim quota by 5,000. He added that for the first time, 13 women Khadim-ul-Hujjaj (personal caretakers) will be assisting the pilgrims.
“Out of 650 Khadim-ul-Hujja accompanying pilgrims, 13 will be women. This year, nearly 47% of pilgrims are women and 1,300 of them are travelling without a mehram (male companion),” Naqvi said.
With the Central government abolishing Haj subsidy from this year, Naqvi added there was not much of a difference in the amount the pilgrims paid to travel to Mecca. However, the difference is significant. A pilgrim travelling from Mumbai, who would pay Rs1.8 lakh until last year, will now have to shell out anywhere between Rs2lakh to Rs2.4 lakh.
Statistics available with Haj committee reveals pilgrims from Indore, Goa, Aurangabad and Bhopal have chosen to leave from Mumbai this year rather than their respective cities, thus increasing the tally of pilgrims travelling from the city to 14,200 this year as compared to 6,297 in 2017.
“Several embarkation points were provided to the pilgrims, thus making it commercially viable for the airlines as well. However, there has been a 3% increase in the total cost owing to cancellation of subsidy. Also, there are other expenses that will be added once pilgrims reach Saudi and pays taxes there,” said Maqsood Ahmed Khan, chief executive officer, Haj Committee of India (HCOI).
Naqvi said that despite the subsidy being abolished, Rs 57 crore were saved from the airfare.
“There hasn’t been much of a difference in the airfare because of the negotiations with the airlines. The overall subsidy we used to get every year was Rs200 crore, but now it’s zero,” said Mehboob Ali Kaiser, Chairman, HCOI.
Speaking about other provisions, Naqvi said the government is trying to revive the sea route for pilgrims by next year for which a tender has been floated. He added a digital OPD system will be provided to pilgrims in Saudi, while an online system will be set-up where bookings for private operators will be accepted.