New Delhi: Indian Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has said that it is for the first time after Independence that preparation for next year’s Haj has been started immediately after completion of the current year’s Haj process in India.
Naqvi has reviewed the Haj 2019 preparation meeting here today. Senior officials from the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministries of External Affairs, Civil Aviation and Health along with the representatives of Haj Committee of India, Indian Embassy and Consulate in Saudi Arabia have attended the meeting.
It was observed in the meeting that Haj 2018 was pro-pilgrims, even after removal of Haj subsidy. Elimination of middlemen and 100 percent online and transparent system ensured that even after removal of Haj subsidy, there was no unnecessary financial burden on pilgrims.
For example, actual Haj air fare from Mumbai was Rs 63,750 in 2014 while in 2018, it was Rs 59,424. From Aurangabad, was Rs 83,450 in 2014 and Rs 81,929 in 2018; from Srinagar, it was Rs 1,63,350 in 2014 and it was Rs 101,358 in 2018. From Nagpur, it was Rs 81,950 in 2014, it was Rs 69,201 in 2018. From Gaya, it was Rs 111,500 in 2014 while it was Rs 97,473 in 2018, from Hyderabad it was Rs 66,600 in 2014 and Rs 65,832 in 2018.
In 2017, a total of Rs 1030 crore was paid to airlines for air fare for 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims. Whereas, in 2018, a total of Rs 973 crore were paid to airlines for 1,28,702 Haj pilgrims, going through Haj Committee of India. It means, Rs 57 crore less was paid to airlines this year even after ending the Haj subsidy.
Naqvi said that Haj 2018 was successful. For the first time after the Independence, a record number of 1,75,025 Muslims from India performed Haj this year and that too without any subsidy.
The Minister said that last year, the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia Haj Consulate, Haj Committee of India and other concerned agencies, had completed preparations for Haj 2018 about 2 months before schedule to ensure smooth Haj pilgrimage. This time, preparations for Haj 2019 are started 3 months before schedule.
Naqvi thanked the Saudi Arabia Government and other concerned agencies in India for successful and smooth Haj 2018.
He said that safety and better facilities, medical facilities for the pilgrims is the priority of the Government and there will be no lackadaisical approach on the matter.
In the meeting, several issues were discussed regarding Haj 2019 such as Haj application process, accommodation, transport and medical facilities for pilgrims etc.