Minority ministry to bid for reviving Haj by sea route

Minority ministry to bid for reviving Haj by sea route

Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi. (PTI Photo)

The Minority Affairs Ministry will make a fresh bid to revive the option of sending Haj pilgrims by the sea in close coordination with the Shipping Ministry after the global tender floated for it under the Modi government's first term threw up economically unviable options, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Naqvi said reviving the sea route for Haj was a priority for his ministry and he has spoken with Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya in this regard.

A meeting of officials of the Minority Affairs Ministry and the Shipping Ministry will take place soon to work out the roadmap for reviving the sea route for Haj, he told PTI.

"We had floated a global tender earlier as well, but the proposals we got from various firms were not economically viable as the journey by sea route was costing more than the airfare," the Minority Affairs Minister said.

He said the ministry was committed to reviving the sea route option as soon as possible.

However, he added that the process was an elaborate one as it involves clearances from several countries.

In the Modi government's first term, Saudi Arabia had given its nod to India's plan to revive the option of sea travel to Jeddah, over two decades after the practise was stopped.

The Minority Affairs Minister also stated that Haj this year had been "very comfortable" for the Indian pilgrims and for the first time 2 lakh Indians went for the pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia has now also allowed Indian pilgrims going for Umrah to visit other places of religious significance in that country, Naqvi said.

Earlier, pilgrims going to Umrah were only allowed to go to Mecca and Madina, but now they can visit other religious places in the country.

The Umrah is an Islamic pilgrimage undertaken at any time of the year, in contrast to Haj which has specific dates according to the Islamic lunar calendar. 

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