The Centre on Thursday constituted a six-member committee to look into the Haj subsidy issue, ANI reported. Minority Affairs Ministry officials told The Times of India that the government did not have any immediate plans to discontinue the subsidies.
This move comes a day after Saudi Arabia increased India’s annual Haj quota, taking it from 1,36,020 to 1,70,520. The Minority Affairs ministry constituted the team that will look into whether the pilgrims can travel for less money even if there is no subsidy offered, PTI reported.
The Supreme Court in May 2012 had asked the Union government to gradually phase out the Haj subsidy and abolish it by 2022. It had suggested the government could invest the subsidy amount, Rs 650 crore a year, on educational and social development of the community, PTI reported.
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday had increased the annual Indian Haj quota by 34,500 after Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Saudi Arabia’s Haj and Umrah Minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten signed an agreement in Jeddah. Naqvi said that it is the “biggest increase” in the quota for Haj pilgrims since 1988 and added that it was “a matter of pleasure” for the government to announce this hike.