The High Power Committee to Review India’s Haj Policy held extensive talks with the concerned Saudi authorities in its bid to reduce the cost for Haj with the phasing out of subsidy by the year 2022.
Afzal Amanullah, convener of the committee, and its members told a press conference at the Indian Consulate conference hall on Tuesday that the committee will submit its report to the government of India within a month. The government will frame the Haj policy for a five-year period starting with the Haj of 2018 on the basis of the committee’s recommendations.
The government of India has formed a six-member committee to give a report on ways to improve India’s Haj policy and also look into issue of subsidy to the pilgrimage in light of 2012 Supreme Court order on gradually reducing and abolishing it by 2022.
Amanullah, retired secretary of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and former consul general of India here, said that the committee had extensive talks and deliberations with almost all the stakeholders in India and Saudi Arabia and the talks covered everything under the sun with regard to improving facilities and services for the Indian pilgrims.
“Our thrust is to enable the pilgrims who come through the Haj Committee of India to perform their obligatory ritual with affordable and reasonable fare for their accommodation and travel.”
He said that there is no scope for floating global tender for the air travel of pilgrims as the bilateral Haj agreement between the Kingdom and India does not permit it.
Qaiser Shamim, former chairman of Indian Haj Committee and member of the Long Term Haj Accommodation Committee, explained the difficulties in finding out long-term accommodation for Indian pilgrims.
The press conference was also attendedby retired judge of Bombay High Court and member of the committee S.S. Parkar, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Minority Affairs J. Alam, who is also member secretary of the committee, Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ahmad Javed, Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh, and Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Mohammed Shahid Alam.