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Central Government to Examine Demands of private Tour Operators who facilitate Haj and Umrah Pilgrimages

4,600 people applied online, or about 11 per cent of the total applications received across the country,during Haj 2016

Kaaba in Mecca. Flickr

Mumbai, November 9, 2016: The central government will examine the demands of private tour operators who facilitate Haj and Umrah pilgrimages, particularly those pertaining to service tax and restoration of Haj quota, Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said on Wednesday.

He was speaking to a delegation of several private Haj and Umrah tour operators who met him here and submitted their grievances.

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All India Haj-Umrah Tour Organisers Association (AIHUTOA) Chairman Baba Kolsawala said that for the past 35 years, the private players, who operate parallel to the Haj Committee of India, have rendered yeoman service to pilgrims.

“Earlier, the private tour operators were exempt from Service Tax on the lines of the Haj Committee, and the pilgrims going through the private operators did not get government subsidies,” Kolsawala said.

Seeking an end to “discrimination” vis-a-vis the Haj Committee of India, he said the ST is now an additional burden on the private operators and must be abolished, especially since Haj is a religious obligation.

On the issue of quota, the AIHUTOA has demanded restoration of the 20 per cent quota which was reduced due to the expansion of the Haram Sharif and demanded a further hike in quota to match the increased population.

Kolsawala also urged for proper distribution of the Haj quota between Haj Committee and AIHUTOA which is not being done now.

“The submission and scrutiny of private tour operators’ files for quota allotment by the ministry must be completed well before the start of the next Haj season,” Kolsawala said.

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Additionally, they pointed out that the Indian and Saudi Arabian government already provide free medical services to Indians and all pilgrims going for Haj pilgrimage.

Accordingly, there is no need for a separate medical insurance for the pilgrims and it should be replaced with a compulsory Group Accident Compensation Insurance policy.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Naqvi said it was a fruitful round and the government would examine the various issues presented by the AIHUTOA.

“The centre has been encouraging online applications for the next Haj to enable people get an opportunity for going on the pilgrimage with ease and complete transparency,” Naqvi said.

During Haj 2016, he said around 4,600 people applied online, or about 11 per cent of the total applications received across the country.

Of these, Maharashtra topped with 10,960, Kerala with 9,257, Uttar Pradesh with 5,407, Telangana with 2,983, Jammu & Kashmir with 2,426 followed by Gujarat’s 2,425 online applications.

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Naqvi added that the Indian government would request Saudi Arabia to increase the quota for Indian Haj pilgrims.

This year, around 99,903 pilgrims travelled to Jeddah for Haj from 21 embarkation points across India through the Haj Committee, and another 36,000 went through the private tour operators.

Besides Kolsawala, the meeting was attended by AIHUTOA President Shaikh Aarif, Vice-Chairman Shaukat Tamboli and other senior officials. (IANS)

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Goa to Conduct Anti-Body Test of Air Passengers as Domestic Flights Resume

Goa government has written to the central government and ICMR seeking permission to conduct anti-body tests of air passengers

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Goa government seeks permission to conduct anti body test on passengers arriving at Goa's Dabolim international airport. Pixabay

With domestic flights scheduled from May 25, the Goa government has written to the central government and the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) for permission to conduct anti-body tests of passengers alighting at Goa’s Dabolim international airport.

Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said, here on Saturday, in a request to the ICMR and the Civil Aviation Minister, the state government had said air passengers headed to Goa be issued Covid-19 negative certificate at the time of boarding the flight.

“I have requested the ICMR and the Civil Aviation Ministry to permit us to conduct antibody testing of passengers and they be issued a Covid-19 negative certificate to enter the state via domestic flights from Monday,” Rane told reporters.

Such testing at the airport will avoid community transmission. (Representational Image). Pixabay

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Such testing would help identify asymptomatic patients while screening them at the airport to avoid community transmission, Rane said.

Goa has 38 active coronavirus cases. 16 people have been cured of Covid-19. (IANS)

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A massive sanitization drive began in major cities in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. (Representation Image). Pixabay

A massive sanitization drive began in major cities in Uttar Pradesh on Friday. This is the latest news in India.

Rajkumar Vishwakarma, DG, fire services, told reporters that sanitization was being done with sodium hypochlorite and fire personnel had been instructed to take care and not to spray the disinfectant on human beings and animals.

The sanitization will be done using sodium hypochlorite. (Representational Image). Pixabay

Spraying will also not be done inside any building due to electrical connections.

Fire personnel have been asked to take photographs and post it on WhatsApp media groups. They have been asked to avoid calling the media personnel to the sanitisation sites to avoid risks.

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Earlier this week, about 50 migrant workers who were at a bus station in Bareilly, were sprayed with sodium hypochlorite by the sanitisation staff. Those who were sprayed, including children, complained of itching in the eyes and rashes on the body.

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Chief minister Yogi Adityanath had expressed his concern over the incident and assured action against the guilty.

District magistrate Bareilly, Nitish Kumar said that the incident happened due to ‘over-zealous’ workers. (IANS)

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People Have Faith in Modi Government to Handle COVID-19 Crisis

Over 83% trust Modi govt will handle COVID-19 crisis well

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The Narendra Modi-led central government is leaving no stone unturned in fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic. Wikimedia Commons

As the Narendra Modi-led central government is leaving no stone unturned in fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, 83.5 per cent people from various states “trust in government” in handling the crisis.

The findings came out in the IANS-CVoter exclusive tracker on COVID-19 Wave 2 survey conducted during last seven days among 18 plus adults nationwide. The findings and projections are based on Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI).

Replying to a question “I think Indian government is handling the coronavirus well”, 83.5 per cent people agreed that they trust in government’s steps being taken in fight against the deadly disease, and 9.4 per cent expressed their disagreement. The survey was conducted on March 26 and 27. Of the 83.5 per cent who showed their trust in government, 66.4 per cent strongly agree with the opinion and 17.1 agree with the view.

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A similar survey on the same question done on March 17 and 18 showed that 83.6 per cent people expressed their trust in government in fight against the pandemic which so far has claimed 29 lives and over 1,000 conformed cases. A total of 13.7 per cent people expressed their disagreement.

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83.5 per cent people from various states trust the Modi government in handling the COVID-19 crisis. Wikimedia Commons

As per the tracker, the data is weighted to the known demographic profile of the states. Sometimes the table figures do not sum to 100 due to the effects of rounding, it says. “Our final data file has socio-economic profile within plus 1 per cent of the demographic profile of the state. We believe this will give the closest possible trends.”

The Tracking Pol fieldwork covers random probability samples during the last seven days from the release date and that the sample spread is across all assembly segments across all states. This survey covers all states in India and was conducted in 10 languages as part of our routine OmniBus, it says.

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“This is a thorough random probability sample; and we are ensuring a proper representative analysis by statistical weighing of the data to make it representative of the local population as per the latest census and or other available demographic benchmarks.”

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The data clarified that it strictly follows the WAPOR code of conduct (World Association of Public Opinion Research) for our ethical and transparent scientific practices and have incorporated the PCI (Press Council of India ) guidelines as our SOP (Standard Operating Procedures). (IANS)