Nagpur: It is bad news for Haj pilgrims from Vidarbha and Chhattisgarh. Nagpur has been removed as an embarkation point and therefore there will be flights for Haj pilgrimage from the city. According to a decision by the Ministry of Minority Affairs, Government of India, embarkation points have been reduced from 21 to 10 due to Covid-19 pandemic. Subsequently, Nagpur too was excluded as an embarkation point. Aurangabad has also been excluded.
The Haj pilgrimage is scheduled to begin on June 26, 2021. The ten embarkation points are Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Kochi, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, and Srinagar.
Further the cover size may be reduced to 3 pilgrims per cover so as to enable all the members in a room. Group of women without Mehram may be reduced to 3 and the period of stay in Saudi Arabia to be reduced to 35 days. People attaining age between 18 and 65 only are allowed, Rs 70,000 more are to be deposited. These are the changes being witnessed by those who wished to go for Haj pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage could not take off early this year due to COVID-19 pandemic. Next year it is scheduled to begin on June 26, 2021, but under stricter rules and with a lot of changes. Meanwhile, the registration of those interested will begin on Saturday. Saudi Government has introduced several changes in the Haj pilgrimage. Earlier, the advance amount was Rs 81,000. This year it has been increased to Rs 1.5 lakh almost up by Rs 70,000. Haj pilgrimage in the past had witnessed several small kids or older persons going to Haj. This year the age group has been made limited. The persons attaining age below 18 years or above 65 years cannot board the Haj flight. The pilgrims used to get 2,100 Riyals at Haj airport for the general expenditure. It has been reduced to 1,500 Riyals . Standard luggage bag would be given by the Haj Committee and the amount against it would be recovered from pilgrims.
This year as per rough estimate about 1.25 lakh people were selected for pilgrimage all over the country this year, while 12,000 will be from Maharashtra. Some issues came to the fore like Haj Committee of India issuing the circular asking the pilgrims to fill the cancellation form and get back the money they had deposited earlier. Though the pilgrimage was cancelled, the money was not given immediately.