Centre reimburses Rs 600 cr annually
New Delhi, May 8: India provides subsidy to over a lakh Hajj pilgrims who go to Makkah and Madina annually and spends over Rs 600 crore ($120 million) every year on the pilgrimage.
According to information available, the Hajj Committee of India (HCI) receives over 300,000 applications every year since 2009. In 2009, the number of applications stood at 357338. In 2010, HCI received 300680 applications and in 2011, it received 302616 applications.
The government provided subsidised air fare to 120131 pilgrims in 2009, to 126191 pilgrims in 2010, and 125051 pilgrims in 2011.
It spent Rs 690 crore in 2009, Rs 600 crore in 2010 and Rs 605 crore in 2011, according to the figures government provided to parliament last month. These subsidy figures do not include the service tax paid for each of the pilgrim.
This information was provided by the civil aviation ministry.
The number of Hajj pilgrims going through the HCI itself is decided by the external affairs ministry, which is the nodal ministry for Hajj matters.
The cost of air travel of pilgrims undertaking Hajj through HCI is borne partly by the pilgrims and partly subsidised by the government.
The fare to be charged from pilgrims is decided by the union cabinet and collected by the HCI. The remaining cost of the travel is met by the government for which a budgetary provision is made in the annual budget of the civil aviation ministry.
The number of pilgrims to be covered under the scheme and the number of embarkation points in India is also decided by the cabinet every year.
The cabinet had in 2011 charged Rs 16,000 for travel from each of the pilgrims and flights were operated from 21 embarkation points.
The Hajj subsidy programme has been operational since 1954 in India.
The subsidy was introduced to Hajj pilgrimage in view of the high cost of chartered air travel - twice the normal fare - due to flights returning empty to India after carrying the pilgrims to Jeddah or flying empty to Jeddah to bring back the pilgrims.
However, there is a view among Muslim clerics that such a subsidy is illegal under Islamic laws, as it is stipulated that a Hajj pilgrim should travel to Makkah and Madina bearing the costs from their own earnings.
“A Hajj is undertaken only if you have the money, are in good health, and have performed all your duties towards your family. Going on a Hajj with money you borrowed from someone is absolutely prohibited,” Shahi Imam of Delh’s Fatehpuri Masjid - Mukarram Ahmed told IANS.
This view was supported by Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari. IANS
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 8 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 9 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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