Mumbai, Aug 12 (PTI) The new Haj policy will be unveiled this month and from the next year, Haj will be organised according to it, Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said here today.

“The new policy is aimed at making Haj process more transparent and smooth. Providing best facilities to Haj pilgrims is at the centre of this policy,” he said at a review meeting on Haj 2017 and 22nd annual Haj orientation camp organised for pilgrims at the Haj House here.

Naqvi said that a high-level committee constituted to frame the new Haj policy is giving final shape to the policy.

Reviving the option of sending Haj pilgrims through the sea route is also one of the important part of the new policy.

“Sending pilgrims through ships will help cut down travel expenses by nearly half as compared to airfares. It will be a revolutionary, pro-poor, pilgrim-friendly decision,” he said.

The practice of ferrying Haj pilgrims between Mumbai and Jeddah by waterways was stopped from 1995.

An advantage with ships available these days is they are modern and well-equipped to ferry 4,000 to 5,000 people at a time, he said.

They can cover the 2,300-odd nautical miles, one-side distance between Mumbai and Jeddah, within just two-three days, he added.

Earlier, the old ships used to take 12 to 15 days to cover this distance.

Talks are on with Saudi Arabia on reviving Haj pilgrimage through sea route, he said.

During first phase of Haj 2017, about 65,000 Haj pilgrims have gone to Saudi Arabia.

In the first phase, Haj pilgrims went from embarkation points in Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Gauhati, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mangalore, Srinagar and Varanasi.

In the second phase, Haj pilgrims will go from Bangalore, Bhopal, Ranchi, Nagpur, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Cochin, Chennai, Aurangabad, Ahmedabad and Indore. The second phase will end on 26th August, the minister said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.