New Delhi, Feb 24 (IANS) The government Thursday said it will soon call a meeting of Muslim members from both houses of parliament to seek suggestions on reforming Haj pilgrimage facilities.
“I plan to convene a meeting in the next few days of Muslim members from both houses so that we can have their views on reforms needed in facilities for the Haj pilgrimage,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna informed the Rajya Sabha.
Giving details of the number of pilgrims going for the Haj from India, the minister said there has been a slight increase. He said increasing the number, however, did not depend entirely on India as the quota was fixed by the government of Saudi Arabia.
“There has been a slight increase in the number of Haj pilgrims from close to 167,900 in 2009 to 171,491 in 2010. Ultimately, it’s the Saudi government which decides the quota,” he said replying to supplementaries during question hour.
Asked if the government was thinking of shifting the venue for the start of the pilgrimage to Delhi from Mumbai, the minister said it would require an amendment in the Haj Pilgrimage act.
“Bombay is the headquarters for Haj pilgrimage as per the act,” Krishna said.
He was promptly corrected on calling Mumbai by its old name as opposition members shouted, “It’s Mumbai, not Bombay”.
The minister also informed the house that according to provisional figures, a subsidy of Rs.611 crore was provided to pilgrims in 2009-10 compared to Rs.867 crore in 2008-09.
The amount of subsidy in 2007-08 was Rs.390 crore, while in 2006-07 it was Rs.360 crore.