Government panel to examine viability of Haj subsidy
The Union ministry for minority affairs has set up a six-member committee to look into the efficacy and viability of the Haj subsidy given to Haj pilgrims in the form of discounted air fares on Air India.
The Union ministry for minority affairs has set-up a six-member committee to look into the efficacy and viability of the Haj subsidy given to Haj pilgrims in the form of discounted air fares on Air India.
Most of the members in the committee would be drawn from an already constituted 11-member panel by the ministry which was mandated last December to look into the modalities of new minority institutions.
The ministry has clarified that the setting up of this committee does not mean that the government has any plan to scrap the subsidy. The ministry sources affirmed that the intention was to make an assessment and approach the subject accordingly.
Recently Saudi Arabia increased India's annual Haj quota by 34,500 to take it to around 1.70 lakh.
The haj subsidy issue has been a matter of debate for long and was dwelt upon by even the Congress-led UPA. Back in 2012, the Supreme Court had directed the government to end the practice.
The Centre is looking into the Haj subsidy issue in light of a 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing subsidy given to pilgrims by 2022. The committee will look into whether subsidies have benefits and if pilgrims can travel paying less if there no subsidy at all. The committee will engage all the stakeholders concerned before submitting its report.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul Muslimeen MP Asaduddin Owaisi on Thursday said that the subsidy amount should be spent on educating girls.
In a tweet directly to minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the AIMIM leader said: “Saudi Arabia has increased Haj Quota… we welcome it @naqvimukhtar Please remove Haj Subsidy 690 cr allot to Girls Education.”
About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Haj from 21 embarkation points across India through Haj Committee of India during 2016. Apart from this, about 36,000 Haj pilgrims had proceeded for Haj through private tour operators.