New Haj policy: Modi government planning 15 cruise trips for pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah

As part of the new Haj policy, the Modi government is planning 15 cruise trips for pilgrims from 2018 onwards. The "world class" ships would ferry worshippers between Mumbai and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, with about 5,000 pilgrims travelling in every trip, Union minority affairs minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

The minister added the cruise would be equipped with "world class facilities" and would take only about 3-4 days to reach Jeddah. Naqvi said the option was now being weighed in the light of a 2012 Supreme Court order asking the Centre to abolish by 2022 the subsidy offered to the Haj pilgrims who travel by air. "We don't want the poor pilgrims to suffer because of this. Hence, we are reviving the sea route as part of our new Haj policy."

pilgrims." Naqvi said the government would come out with a new Haj policy next year, under which even poor Muslims would be able to undertake pilgrimage within their budgets.

Ministry sources said a high-level committee studied the option of sending pilgrims via sea route to Jeddah. "The shipping ministry has approved it and Saudi Arabia has welcomed it too," Naqvi said, adding that various people from the Muslim community were also asked for their opinions on this. "The community is excited about this. The cost would come down significantly. It costs a pilgrim Rs 2 lakh via air. Via sea route, the cost will come down to Rs 60,000."

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