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Haj subsidy to be abolished by 2018, draft Haj policy submitted to Centre

Haj subsidy to be abolished by 2018, draft Haj policy submitted to Centre

Mumbai: A ministry of minority affairs committee on Saturday submitted a draft Haj policy to the Centre suggesting slew of reforms in the existing policy including immediate abolition of the Haj subsidy and allowing women devotees above the age of 45 years to undertake the pilgrimage without any male mehram (close relative) in a group of four or more.

The five-member panel of the special Haj committee, tasked with drafting a new policy for the pilgrimage between 2018 and 2022. In 2012, Supreme Court has asked the Centre to gradually abolish the Haj subsidy by 2022 in an order.

The panel headed by former secretary Afzal Amanullah, also recommends bringing down the number of embarkation points (EPs) from which pilgrims can take flights to Saudi Arabia from the present 21 to nine in a bid to cut down government spending on Haj.

The policy draft was submitted to Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, who is on a two-day visit to Mumbai said that the government will review the recommendations and come up with the final draft.

“The 2018 Haj pilgrimage will be in line with the new Haj policy. It is a better policy, looking at the facilities proposed. It will be a transparent, people-friendly policy. It will ensure safety and security of pilgrims,” said Naqvi.

The committee members said that the draft policy will allow the central government, which has already substantially reduced the subsidy, to quash it altogether within a year. “We had to find ways to reduce government spending,” said Kamal Faruqui, a member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AMPLB) and one of the committee members.

For the tour operators, the committee suggested that the quota be distributed in a 70:30 ratio between the Haj Committee and private tour operators (PTOs).

The panel also recommended an amendment in the Haj Committee Act to extend Umra and Ziyarat to Syria, Iran Iraq and Jordan.

Major recommendations of the Committee 

Policy for Haj Committee of India

Policy for Private Tour Operators

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