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Former Maharashtra Minorities Affairs Minister Anees Ahmed has said the Haj subsidy should be reduced gradually in next 10 years and not in one go. He also demanded that the funds available after slashing the subsidy should be diverted for education and skill development of the minority community. Ahmed recently submitted a memorandum to Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbar after the Civil Aviation Ministry "arbitrarily" slashed the Haj subsidy amount from Rs 450 crore to Rs 200 crore. He also referred to a Supreme Court order which asked for doing away with subsidy in a phased manner over 10 years and not in one go. The funds that would be available after the gradual reduction of Haj subsidy should be constructively used for funding education of Muslim girls and for imparting vocational and technical skills to Muslim youths, he said. The decision of the civil aviation ministry would burden the Haj pilgrims especially in view of the restoration of the Indian Haj quota from 136,000 to 170,025 by the Saudi government, said Ahmed. Ahmed pointed out that because of this cut in the subsidy, there is a quantum jump in the Haj fare. The fare would be in a range of Rs 53,702 to Rs 111,723 depending on the boarding point, he said. The highest airfare would be from Guwahati and the lowest from Mumbai.
There are as many as 21 embarkation points across the country, he said. Ahmed also requested to waive taxes in the form of airport tax, fuel surcharge, service tax on tickets and passenger service fee levied on pilgrims going for Haj in 2017. He also demanded that Haj pilgrims should get benefit of flexi-fares as they book tickets one year in advance.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)