MUMBAI -- Giving a digital push to the Hajj application process for the first time, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi here today launched a mobile application which will provide information and facilitate e-payments for the pilgrimage.
"It is for the first time that Hajj application process is going to be digital," Naqvi said during the launch of the event at Hajj House in south Mumbai.
"This is a major initiative in the government's 'Digital India' programme," he said.
"The Ministry of Minority Affairs has joined Digital India campaign in a big way. We have made several processes regarding Hajj digital/online. The Central government has been encouraging online applications for next Hajj so that people can get an opportunity for the pilgrimage with complete transparency and comfort," Naqvi said.
The mobile app will be available on Google Play store from today. The next Hajj schedule has already been announced and applications will be accepted from today. The last date for submitting applications is 24 January.
Applying for Hajj, enquiry and information, news and updates and e-payment are the main features of the app. The application can be made directly on the app. Five adults and two infants can apply as a group.
A PDF copy of the form will go to applicant's email. After affixing the photo, the printout with documents is to be sent to the state Hajj committees. Registration fees can also be paid through this app.
Naqvi said that last month, a new website of Hajj was launched in New Delhi. The website is in Hindi, Urdu and English languages which will provide all the necessary information regarding Hajj.
The website also lists "Do's and Don'ts" for the Hajj pilgrimage and also a film informing about various aspects of the pilgrimage, Naqvi said.
Last year, about 45,843 people had applied for Hajj online, which was about 11 per cent of total applications received from across the nation for the pilgrimage.
"We have been making efforts to make the process of online application simple and easy so that more and more people can apply online for next Hajj pilgrimage," Naqvi said.
Maharashtra was at the top place regarding online applications for Hajj 2016, with a total of 10,960 people having applied online.
Altogether 9,257 online applications had been received from Kerala; 5,407 from Uttar Pradesh; 2,983 from Telangana; 2,426 from Jammu and Kashmir and 2,425 online applications had been received from Gujarat last year.
About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for Hajj from 21 embarkation points across India through Hajj Committee of India during Hajj 2016. Besides, about 36,000 pilgrims had proceeded for Hajj through private tour operators.
The Central government and Hajj Committee of India have already started preparations to ensure that the next Hajj is completely smooth and convenient for the pilgrims, the minister said.
"We have received several important suggestions on Hajj pilgrimage and we are moving forward keeping in mind these suggestions," Naqvi said.
Discussions have been held with officials of Civil Aviation Ministry to ensure aircraft with modern facilities for Hajj pilgrims, he said.
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