Not even a single woman has applied under the category of ‘without mehram’ (only women group)
Lucknow: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has clearly affected the Haj pilgrimage, as there were only 3,200 applicants from Uttar Pradesh to travel in 2021, compared to last year’s 29,000.
The window for online and offline applications opened on November 7 and the last date for depositing the form is December 10.
Officials have said that the pandemic was one of the main reasons for a lesser number of Haj applications this year.
No female applicant so far
Not even a single woman has applied under the category of ‘without mehram’ (only women group).
Under the category, women can apply in the groups of three. The Haj Committee of India has reserved 500 seats for such women.
With nothing final on the number of pilgrims to be allowed by Saudi Arabia, the quota of states has not been decided as yet. No one knows how many pilgrims would be visiting Makkah and Madinah from Uttar Pradesh next year.
However, the Secretary State Haj Committee, Rahul Gupta, said:
“We want to send the maximum number of pilgrims for Haj but some things are not in our hands. We cannot comment on the quota of Uttar Pradesh because we are still awaiting directives about the numbers.”
He admitted that Covid was having a major effect on Haj pilgrims and the number of boarding points for Haj in Uttar Pradesh have already been reduced.
There will be no Haj flight from Varanasi this year. Boarding points for the pilgrimage all over the country have been reduced from 21 to 10. Uttar Pradesh pilgrims can board Haj flights from Lucknow or Delhi.
However, the reduction of boarding points also indicates a reduction in quota of Haj pilgrims this year. Haj authorities said due to Covid guidelines only 15 pilgrims would be allowed to sit in a 45- seater bus and the number of pilgrims in a hotel room would be limited to two instead of six in the past.
Besides this, the Saudi Arabian government has imposed a visa fee of 300 riyals which comes to Rs 2,600 in Indian currency. Hence, the cost of Haj, this year, will also go up.
As per an estimate, a pilgrim could end up paying between Rs 3.79 lakh to Rs 5.25 lakh on Haj this time.