The last date for submission of application forms for Haj 2021 has been extended to January 10, Union Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi announced on Thursday. According to a statement issued by the minister's office, the embarkation point-wise estimated cost per pilgrim has also been reduced. Mr Naqvi also said that the Haj is scheduled for June-July 2021, and the entire process is being followed according tp the guidelines issued by the governments of Saudi Arabia and India in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Today, December 10, was the last date for submission of application forms for Haj 2021, and now it has been extended to January 10, 2021," the statement said, quoting Mr Naqvi after he chaired a meeting of the Haj Committee of India.
Over 40,000 applications have been received so far for Haj 2021. These include more than 500 applications under the category of women (wanting to travel) without 'Mehram' (male companion), the statement said.
For the Haj 2020, more than 2,100 women had applied under without 'Mehram' category. These women will go for Haj 2021 as their applications remain valid, it said. Besides, new forms are also being accepted from women who want to go for Haj without 'Mehram', it said. All women willing to travel under this category will be exempted from the lottery system, the statement said.
People have been applying online, offline and through the Haj mobile application, it said. Mr Naqvi said, after discussions and feedback received from Saudi Arabia, the embarkation points-wise estimated cost per Haj pilgrim has been reduced. "The estimated cost per pilgrim after reduction is approximately Rs 3,30,000 for Ahmedabad and Mumbai embarkation points, Rs 3,50,000 for Bengaluru, Lucknow, Delhi and Hyderabad, Rs 3,60,000 for Cochin and Srinagar, Rs 3,70,000 for Kolkata and Rs 4 lakh for Guwahati embarkation point," he said.
Mr Naqvi said the national and international protocol in view of the pandemic will be implemented and followed "strictly" during the Haj 2021. Arrangements for the annual pilgrimage have been made
under special circumstances in accordance with special norms, rules, eligibility criteria, age restrictions, health and fitness requirements of the Saudi Arabia government amid the pandemic, the minister said.
"There may be changes in the age criteria for performing Haj due to the pandemic. Each pilgrim will have to undergo COVID-19 test 72 hours before the journey as per the prevailing international air travel protocol," he added. Pilgrims will have to submit their test certificates issued by an approved laboratory with a negative result before travelling to Saudi Arabia, he added.
Mr Naqvi further said considering the pandemic situation and feedback received from Air India and other agencies, the embarkation points for Haj 2021 have been reduced to 10. Earlier, there were 21 Haj embarkation points across the country. For Haj 2021, the 10 embarkation points are: Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Cochin, Delhi, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai and Srinagar.