Union Minister of State
for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs Shri
Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi today said here that there is an “active
consideration”, in consultation with Shipping Ministry, on reviving the
option of sending Haj pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in
the coming days.
Addressing a training of trainers programme at Haj House, Mumbai, Shri
Naqvi said that a high-level committee, formed by the government to
frame the Haj Policy 2018 according to Supreme Court’s 2012 order, is
exploring reviving the option of sending pilgrims via sea route to
Shri Naqvi said that dispatching pilgrims through ships will help cut
down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be
a revolutionary, pilgrim-friendly decision. The practice of ferrying Haj
pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.
At present, devotees undertake the journey by air from 21 embarkation
points across the country.
Shri 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. The high-level
committee will soon submit its report.
Shri Naqvi said that the new Haj Policy is aimed at making entire Haj
process easier and transparent. Haj pilgrims’ facilities will be in
focus of the new Haj policy.
Shri Naqvi said that the Minority Affairs Ministry, in coordination with
other concerned agencies, had started preparations for Haj pilgrimage
very early. Our aim is to provide world class facilities to Haj
pilgrims. Shri Naqvi said that the measure to make Haj process online
has produced good results. A total of 1,29,196 Haj applications were
Shri Naqvi said that the increase in India’s annual Haj quota by Saudi
Arabia Government has benefitted about all the states as quota of the
states for Haj 2017 has also been increased significantly. Saudi Arabia
has increased annual Haj quota of India by 34,005. The decision in this
regard had been taken during signing of bilateral annual Haj agreement
between India and Saudi Arabia at Jeddah on 11th January 2017. It is the
biggest increase in the quota of Haj pilgrims from India after several
About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for Haj from 21
embarkation points across India through Haj Committee of India during
Haj 2016. Apart from this, about 36,000 Haj pilgrims had proceeded for
Haj through the private tour operators.
For Haj 2017, a total of 1,70,025 people will go to Haj pilgrimage from
India out of which 1,25,025 pilgrims will go through Haj Committee of
India while 45,000 people will go through Private Tour Operators.
In the three-day training programme, officials from Haj Committee of
India; Royal Consulate of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; Mumbai Municipal
Corporation, Saudi Airlines; Air India; Customs; Immigration and doctors
are informing about “Do’s and Don’ts” during Haj. It include information
about transport, accommodation in Saudi Arabia and laws of Saudi Arabia.
More than 500 trainers from different states are participating in the
programme. The trainers will now train the pilgrims in training camps.