Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Sunday said a record number of two lakh Indian Muslims will go to Hajj this year, that too without any subsidy, on more than 500 flights from 21 embarkation points across the country.
Addressing a meeting of representatives of private touroperators (PTOs) at Hajj House in Mumbai, Naqvi said while 1.40 lakh pilgrimswill go through the Hajj Committee of India, the rest 60,000 will make thepilgrimage with the help of PTOs.
A total of 725 PTOs will take Hajj pilgrims to Saudi Arabiathis year.
All the PTOs will have to take 10 thousand pilgrims on therates decided by Hajj Committee of India, he said, adding that a portal of PTOs— http://haj.Nic.In/pto/ has been developed containing details of tourpackages etc.
"The Ministry of Minority Affairs received seriouscomplaints against some PTOs. This year, three PTOs have been blacklisted.Strict action was taken against several of them last year as well," hesaid.
"The number of women Hajj pilgrims going without mehram(male companion) has increased this year and stood at 2,340. Around 48 per centof the two lakh Hajj pilgrims from India are women," the ministerinformed.
Naqvi said Saudi Arabia's decision to increase India's Hajjquota to two lakh had ensured the clearing of waiting lists from all bigstates.
For the first time since Independence, all applicants fromstates like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar will go for theHajj pilgrimage this year, thanks to the enhanced quota, he added.
Naqvi said making the entire Hajj process online has ensuredthe pilgrimage was not expensive despite withdrawal of subsidies, adding thatthe process was now "pro pilgrims".
A total of 14 health centres (11 in Makkah and three inMadina) have been established along with three hospitals in Makkah and onehospital in Madina to ensure proper health facilities for Hajj pilgrims, theminister said.A total of 620 Hajj coordinators, assistant Hajjofficers, Hajj assistants, doctors, paramedics etc have been deployed,including a large number of women, informed the minister.