Rehan Ansari & Afroz Alam Sahil for Beyond Headlines
The Haj Committee of India (HCI) is constituted to provide facilities to Indian Haj Pilgrims and to make their Holy Journey better is actually earning from Indian pilgrims. The HCI is charging around Rs 10000 extra from each pilgrim it sends on the Haj.
Corruption allegations are not new for the Haj Committee but this time the funds involved are so high that committee may find it difficult to explain. Many allegations have been leveled against the Committee and yet not much has been done. This time HCI has allegedly overcharged Rs.112 crore from nearly123000 Indian Pilgrims in 2011 as shown by the records published by them. The deficiency came in to the light when the account presented by the Haj committee is analyzed.
Revised press release of the Haj Committee issued in August 2011 (http://hajcommittee.com/foreignratesjul2011r.pdf) explains the expenses as 6911.5 Saudi Arabian Riyals (SAR) (Indian Rupees 84275/-) for the Pilgrims opted for accommodation at Aziziya in Makkah. This is in addition to Rs. 30000 in advance paid by them. Total comes to Rs.114275.00
Subsidised airfare is Rs.16000, miscellaneous expenses is Rs.1504/-. Other Expenses incurred on individual pilgrims in the year 2011 are 2620 SAR for Makkah accommodation including transportation from Aziziya to Haram Sharif. Accommodation in Madina and uniform charges are 500 SAR. Facilities in buildings in Makkah, Madina, Mina Arafat and Muzdalifa are same for Green, White and Aziziya Category.
|Heads of Account||SAR (Saudi Arabian Riyals)||INR (Indian Rupees)|
|Processing charges by the Haj Committee of India||1000.00|
|Accommodation in Aziziya & Transportation to Makkah||2620.00||31947.00|
|Foreign Exchange remitted to Pilgrims on Departure.||2100.00||25606.00|
|Muallim, other travelling, Accommodation in Mina||????? ( 594+348= 942)||?????? (11486)|
In the above table the only figure missing is of Muallim, Stay at Mina and travelling by bus with in different Holy cities which according to the Saudi government is provided for in SAR 942 (594 for Muallim, stay in Mina, Arafat and others +348 for bus travel).
Adding Rs.11486.00 to 82154.00 comes to INR 93640.00 where as the Haj Committee of India charged Rs.102379.00 from the Pilgrims opted for Accommodation at Aziziya. Thus it charged Rs. 9099 more than it incurred on per pilgrim. This is the account of only one category; likewise there are Green and White Category pilgrims where this amount is allegedly over charged to pilgrims.
According to a news report 123486 pilgrims went for Haj in 2011from India. Although this figure is of the cheapest of three categories and figures may go up if all the three categories are analyzed. Thus total amount that Haj Committee of India overcharged with the Indian Pilgrims comes to around Rs.112 crore.
Besides, the HCI also overcharged nearly 800 SAR per pilgrims in the accommodation at Aziziya. According to the sources it costs nearly 800 to 1600 SAR while travelling from Aziziya to Haram Sharif is 120 SAR per pilgrim, while Haj Committee is charging 2620 SAR per pilgrims.
Inconsistency has also been alleged in the foreign exchange. The rate of Saudi Arabian Riyal is quoted to the Haj Committee of India @ Rs.12.1935 for one SAR but the rate was around Rs.11.70 to 11.90.
The Parliament Act provides safeguard to the Haj Committee of India and therefore cannot be challenged in the consumer court. The guidelines issued states that the HCI is constituted under the Act of Parliament renders service to the pilgrims without any consideration. The Haj Committee of India works on no profit no loss basis. It collects from pilgrims the exact amount required for payment of various facilities and services to the concerned agencies. It goes on stating that the Haj Committee of India renders its services free of cost. It also does not come under the purview of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. The pilgrims therefore, cannot claim any compensation against HCI.