Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced on Thursday , 10th December that the last date for submission of application forms for Haj for the year 2021 has been extended and will be open till January 10. According to statement given by the minister’s office, the point-wise estimated cost per pilgrim has also been reduced this time.
Mr Naqvi also said that it is scheduled to be in the month of June-July 2021. The entire process is being followed according to the guidelines which are issued by the governments of Saudi Arabia and also India keeping the COVID-19 pandemic situation in mind.
Before this announcement December 10, was the last date for submission of application forms for year 2021. But now it has been extended to January 10, 2021 said, Mr Naqvi after he arranged a meeting of the Haj Committee of India to discuss about the same.
Over 40,000 applications have been received till now for the Haj trip year 2021 and this includes more than 500 applications for the women category who wants to travel without their “Mehram” – male companion.
Past year 2020, more than 2,100 women had applied for the Haj for the without ‘Mehram’ category. These women will now go for Haj 2021 as their applications still remain valid. Besides the old forms this year, new forms are also being accepted from women who are wanting to go for Haj without their ‘Mehram’. All women who are willing to travel under this category will be exempted from the lottery system.
People have been applying online as well offline and through the Haj mobile application. Mr Naqvi said that after discussions and feedback received from Saudi Arabia, points-wise estimated cost per pilgrim has been reduced and the estimated cost per pilgrim after reduction is approximately around ₹ 3,30,000 INR for Ahmedabad and Mumbai embarkation points, around ₹ 3,50,000 INR for Bengaluru, Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad, around ₹ 3,60,000 INR for Cochin and Srinagar, around ₹ 3,70,000 INR for Kolkata and around ₹ 4 lakh for Guwahati embarkation point.
Mr Naqvi also said that the national and international protocol keeping the pandemic view will be implemented and will be strictly followed during the travel 2021. Arrangements for the annual pilgrimage have also been made
under special circumstances and with the special norms, rules, eligibility criteria, age restrictions, health and fitness requirements which are given by the Saudi Arabia government in between the pandemic.
He added that there may be changes in the age criteria for the people who will be performing Haj due to the pandemic. Each pilgrim will have to compulsorily undergo COVID-19 test 72 hours before they start their journey as per the existing international air travel protocol. Pilgrims will also have to submit their test certificates which needs to be issued by an approved laboratory with a negative result of COVID before travelling to Saudi Arabia.
Mr Naqvi further said that considering the pandemic situation and as per the feedback received from Air India and other agencies, the embarkation points for year 2021 have been reduced to 10. Earlier before this, there were 21 Haj embarkation points across the country. For the Haj 2021, the 10 embarkation points are: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar.