Under the new Hajj policy 2018, reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route is under the government consideration. Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision. The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.
These views was expressed by Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) & Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi during his address at a review meeting on Haj 2017 and 22nd annual Haj orientation camp organised for Haj pilgrims at Haj House Mumbai. He said that the new Haj policy-2018 will be unveiled this month and the next years Hajj would be organised according to this new policy.
According to him, another advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 persons at a time. They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah within just two-three days. Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.
Minister also informed that a high-level meeting will be held on 28th August at Delhi under the chairmanship of Shipping Minister. Senior officials from Shipping Ministry and Minority Affairs Ministry will be attending the meeting.
A discussion is going on with Saudi Arabia Government on reviving Haj pilgrimage through sea route also.
Haj 2017 started with the departure of Haj pilgrims from various embarkation points across the country on 24th July. Saudi Arabia has increased annual Haj quota of India by 34,005. After the significant increase in India’s Haj quota by Saudi Arabia Government, a total of 1,70,025 people have been going to Haj pilgrimage this year from India out of which 1,25,025 pilgrims are going through Haj Committee of India while 45,000 people are going through Private Tour Operators from 21 embarkation points.
During the first phase of Haj 2017, about 65,000 Haj pilgrims have gone to Saudi Arabia. In the first phase, Haj pilgrims went from embarkation points in Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Gauhati, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Srinagar and Varanasi.
In the second phase, Haj pilgrims will go from Bangalore, Bhopal, Ranchi, Nagpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad and Indore. The second phase will end on 26th August.