Haj pilgrims will get to choose embarkation point as per their convenience from next year, Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Sunday.
“For example, Haj air fare per pilgrim from Srinagar is Rs 1,09,692 while from Delhi it is Rs 73,697. So, the pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir can opt for Delhi embarkation point,” said Naqvi as he announced in Mumbai the process for Haj 2018.
“Similarly, the Haj air fare from Guwahati is Rs 1,15,646 per pilgrim while it is Rs 83,027 from Kolkata. So, the pilgrims from Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim can opt for Kolkata,” he explained.
Pilgrims from Gaya, where the airfare is Rs 1,13,680, can also opt for Kolkata.
“This will ensure that the pilgrims don’t face problems even after abolition of Haj subsidy,” Naqvi said.
Naqvi said Haj 2018 will be performed according to the new Haj Policy that will be finalised soon by the ministry after examining the recommendations of the high-level committee constituted to frame the new Haj policy. The committee has submitted its report.
Abolition of Haj subsidy and reducing embarkation points from 21 to nine are among the principal recommendations of the committee.
However, this time around the government is continuing with the 21 embarkation points as per request of the Haj Committee of India (HCI).
The HCI has expressed disagreement with some of the recommendations, including that of abolishing quota for applicants above 70 years of age.
Naqvi said the new Haj policy would maintain the special quota for applicants above 70 years and would allow the women above 45 years in a group of four or more to proceed for Haj without a male relative or “mehram”.
Last time, 1,24,940 persons performed Haj through Haj Committee of India while about 45,000 pilgrims went through private tour operators.
HCI Chairman Mehboob Ali Kaiser, its CEO Maqsood Ahmed Khan and senior officials of the Minority Affairs Ministry were present on the occasion.