The Centre on Thursday formally announced that the work related to management of Haj pilgrimage, including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 2002 and rules has been transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs to Ministry of Minority Affairs with effect from October 1.

A statement by the Ministry of the Personnel said here that Hajj is one of the most complex organisational tasks undertaken by the government outside Indian borders and Indian pilgrims constitute the third largest national group performing the Hajj.

According to the Ministry since 2013 about 1,36,000 pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia every year for performing Haj and given its complexity and geographical spread, Haj Management requires meticulous planning and close coordination with various Ministries and agencies which is a year long managerial exercise.

The Haj management involves concerted efforts of Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Health, the Consulate General of India, Jeddah (CGI), the Haj Committee of India (HCoI) and the State/UT Haj Committees. All aspects of the arrangements for the HCoI pilgrims in Saudi Arabia are coordinated by the Consulate General of India, Jeddah under the overall supervision of the Ambassador of India in Riyadh. In India, the Haj Committee of India established under the Hajj Committee Act, 2002 is responsible for making the arrangements for matters connected with Hajj.

On September 29 after the President Pranab Mukherjee had given his go ahead, the Centre had notified the decision. Till recently the Ministry of External Affairs dealt with the Haj pilgrimage and Act affairs. Under the amended business rules in the Second Schedule the External Affairs Ministry would however continue to oversee pilgrimages to places outside India and the Indian Pilgrim Ships Rules, 1933, and pilgrim parties from India to shrines in Pakistan and vice versa.

Early this year the government had decided to transfer the work related to management of Haj pilgrimage including administration of the Haj Committee Act, 1959 and Rules made there under from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Ministry of Minority Affairs.

Haj Committee

The Haj Committee of India known as Central Haj Committee (CHC) has been established under the Haj Committee Act 2002, for making arrangements for the pilgrimage of Muslims for Haj, and for matters connected therewith.

Every year, the Haj Committee of India organises the All India Annual Conference for Haj Chairmen & Secretaries of State Haj Committees. Senior Officers of the Ministry of External Affairs, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Air India, attend the Conference. The Conference reviews the arrangements of pervious Haj and suggests improvements in the arrangements for next Haj. It also considers the calendar of activities/Action Plan for the next Haj.

The Haj Quota is fixed by the Centre and the state-wise quota of Haj Seats is distributed among the States and Union Territories on the basis of Muslim Population of these States/Union Territories.source TheHindu.