NEW DELHI: Haj subsidy is set to be scrapped from 2018 with the Centre deciding to go ahead with the recommendation for its immediate abolition by a special committee set up in January this year.
This year, around 1,70,000 Indians performed Haj. Pilgrims were flown to Saudi Arabia on Air India flights and subsidies mainly given in the form of discounted air fares.
There are three Haj plans on offer at present — Azizya, Green and one facilitated by private tour operators. The first two plans are subsidised and facilitated by the Haj Committee of India (HCI).
Prior to Thursday, the HCI and all Haj committees from states and Union Territories discussed the draft policy at separate meetings in Mumbai. A detailed memorandum was then submitted to the minority affairs ministry, citing strong objections to immediate abolition of subsidy, reduction of embarkation points and abolition of reserved quota for applicants above 70 years of age.
HCI chairman Mehboob Ali Kaiser said the government had seemed positive about some of their suggestions. “They were positive about not scrapping the green category, the reserved quota for elderly people and our suggestion that embarkation points should not be removed immediately and that pilgrims should be given the option to choose their embarkation points,” he said.