[India], Aug 19 (ANI): Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) and Parliamentary Affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi flagged off the first batch of 300 Haj pilgrims from Mumbai at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here today.
Naqvi said that the Central Government had completed all the entire process related to Haj 2017 well in time and has ensured best facilities to Haj pilgrims flagged off the first batch of 300 Haj pilgrims from Mumbai at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport here today.
He also congratulated the Haj pilgrims and extended his best wishes to them for their pilgrimage.
A total of about 5600 Haj pilgrims from Mumbai are going this year.
Naqvi said that new Haj Policy 2018 will be finalized very soon and from next year Haj will be organised according to the new policy.
The new Haj policy is aimed at making it a transparent and smooth process.
Naqvi also said that reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through sea route also is part of the new policy.
Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares.
The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.
The Union Minister also said that 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," he said.
Haj 2017 started with departure of Haj pilgrims from various embarkation points across the country on 24th July.
Saudi Arabia has increased annual Haj quota of India by Rs. 34,005.
After 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.(ANI)