Comprehensive insurance cover for Haj pilgrims: HCI

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Nagpur, Nov 11 (UNI) The Haj pilgrims would be provided a comprehensive insurance cover from next year, Haj Committee of India (HCI) chairman Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi said today.

Speaking to reporters here, Mr Saradgi, who is also Member of Parliament (MP) from Gulbarga (Karnataka), said the proposal for the insurance cover was under process. At present, the HCI was utilising funds from its corpus to provide assistance to pilgrims in case of distress, he said.

Last year, the HCI provided assistance to 600 pilgrims from India in various contingencies, like medical emergency and loss of luggage.

This year, the committee had made provision to provide similar assistance to 1,000 pilgrims, he said.

Mr Saradgi said 1.60 lakh pilgrims were expected to undertake Haj pilgrimage this year, with 1.23 lakh travelling through HCI and the remaining by private arrangement. There were a total of 18 embarkation points in the country for pilgrims to travel to and from Haj, he said.

A new embarkation point had been opened at Indore for pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh (MP), Mr Saradgi told newsmen. Pilgrims from Guwahati had to travel via Kolkata, but direct flights to Jeddah were being operated this year, the HCI Chairman informed.

Pilgrims would be allowed to carry ''Zamzam'' (holy water) back from the Haj with them on their return flight itself, Mr Saradgi said, adding that 40 per cent of the seats in small aircraft making the trip from Jeddah to India would be kept vacant to prevent overloading.

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