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New Delhi : Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on July 24, 2017, morning flagged off the first batch of 300 Haj pilgrims from New Delhi Airport with prayers of country’s safety and prosperity.

Naqvi congratulated to Haj pilgrims and extended best wishes to them for their pilgrimage.He said that the Ministry of Minority Affairs, in cooperation with Haj Committee of India and other concerned agencies, had completed preparations for Haj 2017 well before in time to ensure smooth Haj pilgrimage, according to a PIB release. Naqvi said that new Haj Policy 2018 will be finalised soon and Haj from next year will be organised according to the new Haj policy. A high-level committee constituted in this regard will soon submit its report. The new Haj policy is aimed at making Haj process transparent and smooth.

Naqvi also said that reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also is part of the new Haj policy. Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995, according to the PIB release. Naqvi said that another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just two-three days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.

Saudi Arabia has increased annual Haj quota of India by 34,005. After significant increase in India’s Haj quota by Saudi Arabia Government, a total of 1,70,025 people are going on Haj pilgrimage this year from India of which 1,25,025 pilgrims will go through Haj Committee of India while 45,000 people will go through Private Tour Operators from 21 embarkation points.

Besides Delhi, Haj pilgrims are going to Saudi Arab on July 24 from embarkation points in Goa, Guwahati, Lucknow, Mangalore, Varanasi, Srinagar and Kolkata. Haj Flights will also go from Gaya (July 27), Ranchi, Kolkata, Bhopal and Bangalore ( August 8), Nagpur ( August 10), Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Chennai, Cochin & Jaipur ( August 13) and Indore and Hyderabad ( August 14), according to the PIB relase. The 21 embarkation points include Delhi, Mumbai, Goa, Guwahati, Lucknow, Mangalore, Varanasi, Srinagar, Kolkata, Gaya, Ranchi, Bhopal, Bangalore, Nagpur, Ahmedabad, Aurangabad, Chennai, Cochin, Jaipur, Indore, Hyderabad.

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