NEW DELHI:  The increase in India’s annual Hajj quota by Saudi Arabia Government has benefitted all the states as quota of these states for Hajj 2017 has also been increased significantly. Hajj quota of the states was released on 9th March, 2017 and process for selection of pilgrims through draw of lots will start from 14th March.

Saudi Arabia has increased annual Hajj quota of India by 34,005. The decision in this regard had been taken during signing of bilateral annual Hajj agreement between India and Saudi Arabia by Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs (Independent Charge) Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi and Hajj and Umrah Minister of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia His Excellency Dr Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten at Jeddah on 11th January 2017.

It is the biggest increase in the quota of Hajj pilgrims from India after several years.

About 99,903 people went to Saudi Arabia for Hajj from 21 embarkation points across India through Hajj Committee of India during Hajj 2016. Apart from this, about 36,000 Hajj pilgrims had reached Jeddah for Hajj through the private tour operators.

For Hajj 2017, a total of 1, 70, 025 people will go to Hajj pilgrimage from India out of which 1, 25,025 pilgrims will go through Hajj Committee of India while 45,000 people will go through Private Tour Operators.

All the states have been benefitted by this increase in the Hajj quota. Hajj quota for Gujarat, which was 7044 in 2016, has been increased to 10,877 for Hajj 2017. Uttar Pradesh’s quota has been increased to 29,017 from 21,828; Haryana’s quota is now 1343 from 1011 last year; Jammu and Kashmir’s quota has been increased to 7960 from 6359; Karnataka’s quota has been increased to 5951 from 4477 last year.

A total of 9780 pilgrims will go to Hajj from Maharashtra in comparison of 7357 last year.

While Tamil Nadu’s quota has been increased from 2399 to 3189; for West Bengal from 8905 to 9940; Telangana from 2532 to 3367; Rajasthan from 3525 to 4686. Madhya Pradesh’s Hajj quota has been increased from 2708 to 3599; Delhi’s from 1224 to 1628; Andhra Pradesh’s from 2052 to 2728 while Jharkhand’s quota has been increased from 2719 to 3306.

A total of 4,48,268 applications were received for Hajj 2017.

Maximum applications have been received from Kerala (95,236) followed by Maharashtra (57,246); Gujarat (57,225); Uttar Pradesh (51,375); Jammu and Kashmir (35,217); Madhya Pradesh (24,875); Karnataka (23,514) and Telangana (20, 635).

A total of 1, 29, 196 applications were done online. The highest number of online applications were received from Kerala (34,783) followed by Maharashtra (24,627); Uttar Pradesh (10,215); Gujarat (10, 071); Jammu and Kashmir (8227), Rajasthan (8091).

It is for the first time that Hajj application process was made digital. Hajj Committee of India Mobile App was launched on 2nd January 2017. The Central Government had encouraged online applications for Hajj 2017 so that people can get an opportunity for the pilgrimage with complete transparency and comfort. In December, a new website of Hajj had also been launched.

Ministry of Minority Affairs and Hajj Committee of India had started preparations for Hajj 2017 very early to ensure that the next Hajj is completely smooth and convenient for the pilgrims. The states have been allotted Hajj quota as per their population according to Census 2011 with complete transparency