Haj subsidy to be phased out without troubling Hajis

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Haj subsidy

New Delhi: After the Supreme Court ruling to end Haj subsidy for Muslims by 2022, Union  Minority  Affairs  Ministry is looking into ways and means to nullify its impact on Haj pilgrims.  Minority  Affairs  Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi asked the committee, which was constituted to suggest how the impact of the withdrawal of subsidy can be minimised, to give its report so that necessary measures could be charted out.

The ministry’s officials informed that the 10-member committee was constituted comprising bureaucrats, journalists, academics, social workers and entrepreneurs. The ministry wants them to suggest some measures that ensure that the end of Haj subsidy does not impact Muslim pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia. Naqvi also asked the committee to expedite the process and give its report as soon as possible. Originally, the committee was given a time of 2 months when it was constituted.

Sources in the ministry informed us that Afzal Amanullah, a former secretary in the Union government, was made the convener of the committee. The committee will visit Jeddah to discuss the issue with the Consulate General of India and the Haj Consulate before giving a final shape to its report. The minister asked SS Prakash, who is taking care of the legal implications of the matter, to look for a solution to the legal matters at the earliest. Besides Jedda, these officials will also visit Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata to discuss the matter with other stakeholders so that the problems of Hajis could be sorted out.

Sources in the ministry informed सिर्फ़ News that every State and Union Territory in the country would have to give their suggestions to this committee to be accommodated in the report. The ministry also wants to ensure that the entire process from a pilgrim’s Haj plan to landing to Jeddah to their accommodation and transport in that city is properly arranged for. Officials of the ministry were also present in the meeting.

Sources in the ministry said that Rs 380 crore subsidy had to be given in the year 2017,  Rs 305 crore in 2018, Rs 230 crore in 2019, Rs 155 crore in 2020, Rs 80 crore in 2021 and nil by 2022. This year, the Haj subsidy given was Rs 455 crore.