The government has formed a high-level panel to look into the Haj subsidy issue in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here today. Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event, the Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) said the panel, inter alia, is expected to figure out if the pilgrims can travel to Saudi Arabia paying less or equally if there is no subsidy. "Questions and issues about Haj subsidy have been raised from time to time. We have formed a high-level committee to study in detail different aspects related to the subsidy," Naqvi said. The committee is doing its work and will hold talks with various stakeholders and furnish its recommendations "soon", he added. "We have given a free hand to the committee to conduct its study.
But the thing which needs to be looked into is whether the Hajis (pilgrims) can travel spending less or paying equal charges in the absence of subsidy," he said.Saudi Arabia had two days ago increased India's Haj quota by 34,500. This means, around 1.70 lakh devotees can undertake the pilgrimage from India. Naqvi made the remarks on the sidelines of his meeting with representatives of the Anglo-Indian community. Lauding the community for its contribution towards nation building, Naqvi said his ministry will work for their empowerment in a dedicated manner. The community representatives, including MLAs from various states, hailed the meeting with the Union minister as "historic step". "I am happy that we had very fruitful and constructive discussions with representatives of Anglo-Indians from different parts of the country. The Ministry will work dedicatedly for their empowerment," he added.