Minister Naqvi flags off first batch of Haj pilgrims from Mumbai
This is the first year when Haj pilgrimage is taking place without being provided any subsidy, the Minority Affairs Minister said.
Besides Maharashtra, pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh were also among those who left from Mumbai.
"The Union government, in co-operation with the Saudi Arabia Haj Consulate, Haj Committee of India and other agencies concerned, completed preparations for Haj 2018 well before time to ensure a smooth pilgrimage," he said.
He said today that even after withdrawal of the subsidy, the expenditure incurred on the pilgrimage has come down.
Last year, Rs 1,030 crore was paid to various airlines for the fares of 1,24,852 Haj pilgrims, whereas this year, Rs 973 crore will be paid for 1,28,702 pilgrims going through the Haj Committee of India.
This means, Rs 57 crore less is being paid to airlines this year even after ending the subsidy, he said.
The subsidy is generally provided to benefit the travel agents, he added.
Every year, some Haj officers are also sent along with the pilgrims to Saudi Arabia. This year, a couple of hundred women officers are going to accompany pilgrims. This is also happening for the first time, as till last year only male officers used to travel to Saudi Arabia, the minister said.
It will take a longer time but expenses will be less and more Muslims can travel from India, he said.
Several rounds of talks have taken place with officials and ministers concerned and the Saudi government, he said, adding that the first ship is expected to leave next year from Mumbai.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)