New Delhi, Jan 14: The Union government which has decided to form a panel to look into the issue of subsidy given to Haj pilgrims says that this time it would come up with effective measures to tackle the issue.
[Also Read: Everything you wanted to know about Haj subsidy]
The Supreme Court had in 2012 directed that the subsidy be gradually reduced before being completely phased out in ten years. Government sources tell OneIndia that it is not just the SC order that has made them re-think on the subsidy, but it is also the burden on the exchequer. Many who can afford the travel also claim subsidy and this is not right, the officer adds.
Haj subsidy in statistics:
The Haj subsidy is given to those who go through the Haj Committee of India and not through private operators. In 2016, the number of people who obtained Haj subsidy was 1.70 lakh. The Haj subsidy varies between Rs 600 and 700 crore and the Ministry for External Affairs incurs an expense of Rs 28 to 33 crore.
In the last three years, a total of 3.6 Muslims have gone on Haj pilgrimage through the Haj committee. These persons are entitled for subsidy. The number of persons who have gone through a Private Tour Operator or PTO in the past three years is around a lakh.
Statistics for 2012 to 2014 show that the highest number of Haj pilgrims were from Uttar Pradesh. While UP topped the list with 89,452, the next was Maharashtra at 30,778. West Bengal and Jammu and Kashmir came next in the list with 30,642 and 24,451.
It's the Ministry for Civil Aviation that provides subsidy for air travel for pilgrims through the Haj Committee of India. The amount spent on air travel per person varies. For instance in 2014, the amount spent per person on air travel was Rs 35,000. While this was the base amount, the figures in some cases varied between Rs 63,000 to 1.63 lakh, depending on the embarkation point in India. In 2015, the air travel was at Rs 42,000.
Following the SC verdict of 2012, the subsidy amount has seen a considerable decline. While in 2012 the subsidy extended was at Rs 836 crore. In 2013 and 2014, the subsidy amount was reduced to Rs 680 crore and Rs 533 crore respectively.
What support does the government provide?
It is the external affairs ministry that coordinates the Haj arrangements in consultation with the Haj Committee and Consulate General of India at Jeddah. The ministry also sends at least 500 officials on deputation every year which also includes doctors and para-medical staff.
The Consulate General of India coordinates and sets up tents in Mina, apart from arranging dispensaries and transport facilities for the pilgrims. The Civil Aviation Ministry supervises the air charter operations during the Haj period. It also deploys officials for support in Saudi Arabia to assist in embarkation and disembarkation of pilgrims.