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Draft Haj policy recommends abolition of Haj subsidy

Mumbai, Oct 7 (UNI) The committee appointed by the Government for revising the Haj policy on Saturday recommended abolition of subsidy for pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia for the annual pilgrimage.

"It is advisable that the existing reduction plan (phasing out of subsidy) be followed," the committee, headed by retired IAS officer Afzal Amanullah said in its draft policy presented to Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi here today.

This recommendation has been made in the light of 2012 Supreme Court direction to gradually reduce and completely remove the subsidy by 2022.

Other major recommendation of the committee include reduction in embarkation points from 21 to 9 which are Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Cochin.

The panel also wants distribution of quota between Haj Committee of India (HCoI) and private tour operators (PTOs) to be rationalised in the ratio of 70:30 for the next 5 years.

It has recommended that seats among the States/ Union Territories should be distributed in the ratio of their Muslim population as well as in proportion to the number of applications received.

The Committee has also proposed increase in the quota for Mehram from 200 to 500, and increase in the special quota for Jammu & Kashmir from 1500 to 2000.

It has said that states/ UTs receiving less than 500 applications, should get priority in distribution of surplus seats. This will benefit UTs like Andaman & Nicobar Island, Lakshadweep, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu & Puducherry as well as smaller States like Chhattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur.

Besides reserved category of applicants viz 70+ and 4th timers should be abolished, according to the draft policy.
(Eds: pick up suitably from earlier series)
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