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Mukhtar Naqvi unveils new Haj Policy

Mumbai, Oct 7 (UNI) The distribution of Haj pilgrims between the Haj Committee of India (HCoI) and private tour operators (PTOs) will henceforth be in the ratio of 70:30, according to the new Haj Policy
for 2018-2022 which was announced here on Saturday.
Similarly, the embarkation points of Haj flights have been reduced from 21 cities all over India to just 9 cities under the new Haj Policy, said Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi
while announcing the policy.
Unveiling the salient points of the new policy, he said the distribution of quota between HCoI and private tour operators will be in the ratio of 70:30, signifying almost a five per cent hike for the PTOs.
This year (2017), the Haj quota for India was increased to 1,70,025, of which 1,25,025 was allocated to HCoI and 45,000 to the PTOs.
Henceforth, PTOs shall be known as ‘Haj Group Organisers’ (HGOs), their main quota would be further divided as per three different categories based on their experience and financial strength, he said.
Regarding the HCoI’s quota, the seats for Haj among the states and Union Territories would be distributed in the ratio of their Muslim population and in proportion to the number of applications received from there, he said.

A special quota for Haj pilgrims from Jammu & Kashmir will be increased from existing 1,500 to 2,000, while the reserved category of applicants in the 70-plus age group and fourth timers has been
abolished and they would go through the normal lottery, he informed.
While the quota for 'Mehram' (a special person accompanying a female pilgrim) has been hiked from 200 to 500, women above age of 45 years travelling in a group of four or more will be permitted to go for
Haj without a Mehram.
The Minister also said the embarkation points for Haj pilgrims from next year would be New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Kochi and Ahmedabad.
Suitable Haj Houses would be built at these embarkation points for the pilgrims, he said and informed that the relevant states/districts would be tagged with each embarkation points properly.
Mr Naqvi also said that a comprehensive empanelment policy would be framed for the PTOs to facilities faster and easier renewals with stringent norms, and blacklisting and forfeiture of their security deposits.
The PTOs would be required to set up a robust portal for processing Haj applications and proper pre-decided disclosure norms, collect Haj tour costs from pilgrims only through bank accounts and submit
details to the Ministry before the tour departure, the Minister said.
On the long-pending proposal to revive Haj pilgrimage by ship, Mr Naqvi said the Saudi Arabia Government would be consulted for this and added then it would float a expression of interest to gauge the
market for such travel.
Independent tour operators say travel by ship would drastically reduce the cost per pilgrim to around Rs 60,000, making it affordable to a larger section of the population.
The four-member high-level committee, led by Afzal Amanullah, submitted its report on New Haj Policy to Mr Naqvi at Haj House in city.