Hyderabad, July 6: Performing holy Haj this year will be costlier by nearly Rs 450 crore compared to last year.
The depreciating value of rupee against dollar, increase in foreign exchange rates and cut in subsidies given by the Government of India following Supreme Court directions are the major factors that have burdened the intending Haj pilgrims this year. Last year, the pilgrims under Azizia category have spent around Rs 1.35 lakh while nearly Rs 1.40 lakh were spent by pilgrims under Green category. This year, the Azizia category pilgrims will have to spend about Rs 1.5 – 1.6 lakh each while the cost of performing Haj under Green category will be Rs 1.7 – 1.8 lakh per pilgrim.
With an average increase of Rs 30,000 per pilgrim in the cost of performing Haj 2013, the overall burden on Indian Haj pilgrims will be nearly Rs 450 crore compared to last year.
The Central Haj Committee is yet to announce the actual expenditure that each pilgrim will have to bear with regard to foreign exchange rates. Although the rate of each Saudi Riyal was fixed at Rs 14.98 during the Haj Conference held at the national capital last week, it was formally not communicated to the State Haj Committees.
When the foreign exchange rates were fixed last year, each dollar was trading at Rs 53 in the international market. Presently, the dollar is trading at Rs 60. Since the foreign exchange rates for Haj pilgrims are decided by converting the value of Riyal into US dollars, this year the cost of performing Haj is all set to increase. With an average increase in the rate of dollar by Rs 7, nearly 1.5 lakh pilgrims from across India will end up paying several crore of rupees additionally compared to last year.
Besides increase in the foreign exchange rates, the pilgrims will also have to pay an extra amount of Rs 5,000 each towards airfare following cut in subsidy by the Central Government. The airport authorities too will collect Rs 1,000 each as User Charges from the pilgrims.