Saudi government raises India’s Hajj quota to 2 lakh

Saudi government raises India’s Hajj quota to 2 lakh

The Saudi Arabian government has issued a formal order, notifying increase in Indias Hajj quota to 2 lakh from 1.75 lakh, about two months after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave the assurance to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, official sources said here on Friday.

The decision, taken on Thursday, will ensure that for thefirst time since Independence, all the Hajj applicants from all big states likeUttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar can go for the pilgrimagethis year as their waiting lists have been cleared due to the increase in thequota, the sources said.

The Saudi Crown Prince, during his visit here in February,had announced at a meeting with the Prime Minister and attended by ExternalAffairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar AbbasNaqvi that India's Hajj quota would be increased by about 25,000, raising thenumber to 2 lakh.

This is the third hike in three consecutive years. In 2017,the quota was increased by 35,000 while last year, it was raised by 5,000 totake the number to 1,75,000, the sources said.

"Due to the significant increase in India's Hajj quota,all the applicants from Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andaman and NicobarIslands, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Goa, Lakshadweep, Manipur, Odisha, Puducherry,Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh, Daman & Diu, Himachal Pradesh,Jharkhand, Punjab, Tripura will go to Haj 2019," the sources said.

This time, 2,340 Muslim women from India will also go forHajj without 'Mehram' or male companion, they said.

For this year's Hajj pilgrimage, 34,397 applications havebeen received from Uttar Pradesh, 8,470 from West Bengal, 191 from Goa, 499from Manipur, 698 from Odisha, 2,138 from Andhra Pradesh, 3,588 from Assam,4,950 from Bihar, 72 from Himachal Pradesh, 2,233 from Jharkhand, 342 fromPunjab, 110 from Tripura and all these applicants have become eligible afterincrease in India's Haj quota, the sources said.

"Making the entire Hajj process completely online anddigital has not only ensured that Haj pilgrimage has not become expensive evenafter removal of Haj subsidy, it has also made the Haj process absolutelypro-pilgrim," they said.

By ensuring transparency in the Hajj process and making it100 percent online and digital, the airfare for the pilgrimage has decreasedsignificantly, the sources said, adding in 2018, even after removal of Hajjsubsidy, pilgrims saved about Rs 57 crore in air fares.

The GST on Hajj pilgrimage has been reduced from 18 per centto 5 per cent this year, which will ensure that about Rs 113 crore will besaved by pilgrims during the 2019 Hajj, they said.

Besides, accommodation in Madina has been taken on 100 SaudiRiyals less in comparison to the last year which will result into Indianssaving about Rs 3,000 per pilgrim, the sources said.

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