Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs, Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said here that the Central Government had completed all the entire process related to Haj 2017 well in time to ensure best facilities to Haj pilgrims.
Shri Naqvi flagged off the first batch of 300 Haj pilgrims from Mumbai at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here today.
Shri Naqvi congratulated to Haj pilgrims and extended best wishes to them for their pilgrimage. A total of 5600 Haj pilgrims are going to Haj this year from Mumbai.
Shri Naqvi said that Haj 2017 has been completely successful till date as the Central Government had completed preparations for Haj this year well before in time to ensure smooth pilgrimage.
Shri Naqvi said that new Haj Policy 2018 will be finalised very soon and Haj from next year will be organised according to this new Haj policy. The new Haj policy is aimed at making Haj process transparent and smooth.
Shri Naqvi also said that reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also is part of the new Haj policy. Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.
Shri Naqvi said that another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just two-three days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.
Haj 2017 started with departure of Haj pilgrims from various embarkation points across the country on 24th July. Saudi Arabia has increased annual Haj quota of India by 34,005. After significant increase in India’s Haj quota by Saudi Arabia Government, a total of 1,70,025 people have been going to Haj pilgrimage this year from India out of which 1,25,025 pilgrims are going through Haj Committee of India while 45,000 people are going through Private Tour Operators from 21 embarkation points.
During first phase of Haj 2017, about 85,000 Haj pilgrims have gone to Saudi Arabia. In the first phase, Haj pilgrims went from embarkation points in Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Gauhati, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Srinagar and Varanasi.
In the second phase, Haj pilgrims will go from Bangalore, Bhopal, Ranchi, Nagpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad and Indore. The second phase will end on 26thAugust.