Removing middlemen made Haj cheaper despite spiking subsidy: Naqvi

Mumbai: Eliminating middlemen has ensured that the annual Haj pilgrimage remains cheaper even after the subsidy was removed on it, Union Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here on Monday.

He said the transparency introduced in the system had ensured that no extra financial burden was imposed on the Haj pilgrims. A record 175,825 Muslims including 48 percent women performing the pilgrimage in 2018.

Inaugurating a two-day Haj-related Training of Trainers Programme (TTP) for the upcoming season, Naqvi said that airfares for the pilgrimage had declined with Rs 57 crore saved by the pilgrims.

Moreover, Goods & Services Tax (GST) was also slashed from 18 to 5 percent which will now help save Rs 113 crore in Haj 2019.

The GST reduction will directly impact airfares from different destinations which will go down by Rs 13,050 from Guwahati, Rs 11,947 from Ranchi, Rs 11,377 from Srinagar, Rs 11,028 from Gaya, Rs 9,787 from Kolkata, Rs 9,373 from Aurangabad, Rs 7,968 from New Delhi, Rs 7,306 from Ahmedabad and Rs 7,205 from Hyderabad.

For the first time since Independence, 2,340 Muslim women from India will proceed on Haj in 2019 without ‘Mehram’ (male companion) and the lottery system will not apply to them, he added.

This year, 267,000 applications have been received, including 164,902 online.

On the occasion, Naqvi inaugurated the renovated Conference Hall and Passport Office at Mumbai Haj House.