Hyderabad: Haj pilgrims of 2018 season are worried about the withdrawal of Haj subsidy. Although Supreme Court had advised withdrawal of subsidy by 2022, the Central Govt. suddenly took a decision for its withdrawal from this financial year.
Haj pilgrims are worried that their travel expenses would increase but it is not true since the pilgrims going from Hyderabad embarkation point won’t get affected whereas the travel expenses of pilgrims going from other states may increase.
It may be mentioned that Haj subsidy was being offered not on the total expenses but it was given only on the airfare. If a close scrutiny of Haj subsidy is made, it will be known that the additional amount of airfare was being diverted to compensate the losses Air India was facing.
By giving Haj subsidy, Govt. of India was giving an impression that it is doing favour to the Muslims but it is not so. From the Haj pilgrims, Air India was charging double the airfare treating these flights as chartered since the flights while returning from Saudi Arabia did not have passengers.
It may also be mentioned that till 2016, Haj pilgrims of Telangana State enjoyed subsidy benefit whereas, in 2017, no subsidy was given.
According to the statistics presented to CM of TS by Prof. S.A. Shukoor, in 2016, the actual airfare was Rs. 56,868. A subsidy of Rs. 11850 was provided and Rs. 45000 were received from each passenger. In 2017, the actual airfare was Rs. 60,023. The Haj pilgrims of Telangana paid Rs. 62, 065 in this manner Rs. 2000 excess was collected from them. The same airfare was collected from the Haj pilgrims of A.P. and Karnataka.
It may be mentioned that the airfare is determined from the point of embarkation.
Last year, the airfare of the Haj pilgrims went from Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Hyderabad was less than Rs. 65000 and hence no subsidy was given to them. The subsidy amounting to Rs. 2000 crore was distributed to the states where the haj pilgrims paid less than Rs. 65000 airfare. From Gaya, the airfare was Rs. 1,06,868. For such passengers, Rs. 44800 subsidy was provided. For the passengers of Srinagar, Rs. 41,200, for Ranchi, Rs. 41,550, for Mangalore Rs. 35,700, for Varanasi, Rs. 22399, for Lucknow, Rs. 14,150, for Kolkata, Rs. 13,030, for Jaipur, Rs. 13,450, for Indore, Rs. 28450, for Goa, Rs. 12650, for Bhopal, Rs. 26550, for Aurangabad, Rs. 18700 subsidy was provided.
After the withdrawal of subsidy, there is an apprehension that the airfare of the Haj pilgrims going from the places other than Telangana, Ahmedabad, Mumbai would increase.
Now, it remains to be seen what kind of steps Govt. of India is going to take to reduce the extra burden of airfares caused by the withdrawal of subsidy.