New Haj policy this week, Mum-Jeddah sea route to be revived
New Delhi: The Centre is expected to come out with a new Haj Yatra policy this week aiming to ensure a smooth pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, government sources have said.
A key feature of the policy, expected to be implemented from the next year, will be to revive the option of sending pilgrims via the sea route to Jeddah, after a hiatus of more than two decades, they said.
The option of ferrying the faithful from the coastal city of Mumbai to Jeddah has been considered as the Supreme Court in a 2012 order asked the Centre to abolish by 2022 the airways subsidy offered to Haj pilgrims.
The government feels the sea route will help cut down the travel expenses.
The Muslims, however, will continue to have the option of travelling to their holiest site by air from 21 embarkation points in the country, including Delhi and Mumbai, the sources said.
Another feature of the policy is to limit the pilgrimage to a once-in-a-lifetime affair, they said, adding the government will come out with the policy this week.
"It is in line with the apex court's order and revives the option of sending pilgrims via ships to Saudi Arabia as it is a cheaper yet comfortable option," a source said.