February 8, 2017 2:27:31 pm
A six-member committee set up to look into ways for improving Haj policy is expected to submit its report in two to three months, Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Wednesday. The panel is to give a report on ways to improve the Haj policy and also look into issue of subsidy for the pilgrimage in light of 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing it by 2022.
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During Question Hour, the Minority Affairs Minister told Lok Sabha that the committee is expected to submit its report in two to three months. Among others, the panel would look into whether the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less in the absence of a subsidy. To a query on whether Haj pilgrims from India are paying more compared to other countries, he replied in the negative and cited data to illustrate that expenses incurred by them are less compared to those from countries such as Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The government does not extend any direct subsidy to individual pilgrims for Haj though certain amount of subsidy is given to Air India for ferrying them. “With the gradual reduction of subsidy, only airfare for the Haj pilgrimage may increase and it will not affect any other expenses, which is borne by the pilgrims on actual basis,” the Minister said.
In response to a supplementary question on expenses being higher and private operators charging huge money for Haj pilgrimage, Naqvi said the new Haj policy would consider the problems of the poor who want to go for the pilgrimage and added that charges levied by private players would be reviewed. Haj expenses are incurred on air travel of pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, their accommodation and travel to Makkah and Madinah and other miscellaneous expenditure incidental to the pilgrimage, he added.
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