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Facilities for Haj Pilgrimage


Facilities for Haj Pilgrimage 
The number of pilgrims who proceeded for Haj during the last three years are  as follows:

Year
Number of Pilgrims proceeded for Haj
2013
135,938
2014
135,914
2015
135,868

The expenditure towards Haj is borne by the pilgrims themselves. No financial assistance is given directly to Haj pilgrims. However, Ministry of Civil Aviation provides subsidy for air travel to pilgrims going for Haj through the Haj Committee of India.
         
Ministry of External Affairs coordinates arrangements for Haj pilgrimage in consultation with the Haj Committee of India and the Consulate General of India (CGI), Jeddah. Every year, MEA sends deputationists (Coordinators, Assistant Haj Officers, Haj Assistants, Doctors and paramedical staff) for rendering assistance to the Haj pilgrims. Every year, CGI, Jeddah arranges for temporary tents in Mina, sets up branch Haj Offices and dispensaries in Makkah and Madinah, provides medicines, ambulances, other local transport etc. for the Haj pilgrims.

Ministry of Civil Aviation supervises the Air charter operations during Haj period and deploys officials in Saudi Arabia to assist in embarkation and disembarkation of pilgrims. 
         
To provide better facilities and amenities for Haj pilgrims, several initiatives have been undertaken. These include: improvement of   amenities for Haj pilgrims in buildings in Makkah and Madinah; strengthening of medical services for Haj pilgrims, streamlining of air travel arrangements for Hajis by ensuring effective management of timely arrival and departure of flights, online submission of Haj application form to Haj Committee of India and providing e-payment option to pilgrims,  provision of local sim cards; provision of travel by metro train in Mashaer region for pilgrims going through HCOI ; 24 X 7 helpline, toll free  number and use of Whatsapp and SMS  for providing timely information; use of Mobile phone Application- “Indian Hajis Accommodation Locator” with information for Indian pilgrims; speedy and effective online complaint management system; strengthening of transport arrangements for Hajis accommodated in Azizia.

In terms of Haj Policy 2013-17 framed by the Government in accordance with the judgment of Supreme  Court dated 16.04.2013, an individual can perform Haj through Haj Committee of India (HCoI)  only “once in a life time”. However, a Repeater pilgrim is eligible as a Mehram of a female pilgrim or companion of age 70+ pilgrim, if no other Mehram/ Companion (who has not performed Haj through HCoI) is available and if he/she pays full airfare as decided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

The Minister of State for the External Affairs Gen. Dr. V. K. Singh (Retd.) provided this information in reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.
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Expediting Passport Issuance 
The Ministry has announced two major changes recently that will expedite the process for first time passport applicants as well as make it more convenient to secure an appointment at local Passport Seva Kendras.  As per the announcement, the first time passport applicants who furnish Aadhaar Card, Electoral Photo Identity Card (EPIC), PAN Card and an affidavit in the format of Annexure-I will get faster service without payment of any additional fees, subject to successful online validation of Aadhaar and EPIC and PAN Cards, if required from the respective databases. The passports under this liberal dispensation will be issued on Post-Police Verification basis.

The second measure announced pertains to securing online Appointments for submission of passport applications at Passport Seva Kendras. The new provision is allowing applicants to choose any appointment date from the earliest five available dates (working days) for scheduling/rescheduling an appointment for Passport related services. Earlier, the System used to offer only one available date to the applicants for seeking appointment for Passport related services.

No extra charge is levied for the services being rendered due to above two announcements.
             
There was a temporary shortage of passport booklets which created some backlog in issuance of passports in December 2013 – February 2014 and April 2014-mid June 2014 due to stoppage of production of booklets by ISP Nashik due to shortage of raw material imported from abroad.  However, there is no backlog in the issuance of passports due to supply of passport booklets at the present.     

In view of increased demand for passports, the Ministry is considering to further increase the number of PSKs and endeavoring to open more PSKs in thickly populated district headquarters. With the implementation of Passport Seva Project (PSP), the Ministry had established 77 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) in various States/Union Territories initially.  Subsequently, to provide more access points for passport services, the Ministry decided to set up 19 additional Passport Seva Laghu Kendras (PSLKs). Out of these 19 PSLKs, 10 have already started functioning in various States and Union Territories till February 2016.  The Ministry has also initiated the process to engage an agency to conduct a comprehensive study for Passport Seva Project Version 2.0 (PSP V2.0) including exploring the possibility of opening more PSKs across the country.  It may be stated that the recommendations for the PSP V2.0 will be considered after expiry of the current PSP Contract in June 2018



The  number of passports issued during the last three years, State-wise is given below:

State
2013
2014
2015
Andaman & Nicobar
            3008
3560
4200
Andhra Pradesh
7,75,182
6,00,592
4,52,415
Arunachal Pradesh
767
922
1,676
Assam
39,977
50,028
66,702
Bihar
1,69,454
2,56,492
3,65,631
Chandigarh
22,914
26,729
29,425
Chhattisgarh
30,459
34,539
38,867
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
1,227
1,254
1,777
Daman and Diu
5,091
6,333
8,400
Delhi
3,14,955
3,42,310
3,84,119
Goa
48,373
47,185
51,586
Gujarat
4,61,409
5,48,591
7,46,856
Haryana
1,79,382
2,13,009
2,53,480
Himachal Pradesh
28,298
32,699
47,006
Jammu and Kashmir
86,660
86,095
1,13,184
Jharkhand
60,453
66,730
84,381
Karnataka
4,37,129
5,24,733
6,36,770
Kerala
9,47,532
10,60,148
11,44,138
Lakshadweep
1,503
1,488
1,706
Madhya Pradesh
1,02,745
1,43,309
1,64,625
Maharashtra
8,04,411
9,21,635
11,87,050
Manipur
4,248
4,915
5,451
Meghalaya
2,507
3,184
5,152
Mizoram
1,958
2,451
2,880
Nagaland
2,366
2,695
2,937
Odisha
81,412
94,477
1,08,131
Puducherry
20,113
20,699
21,658
Punjab
4,56,718
5,80,838
7,14,989
Rajasthan
2,02,340
2,50,747
3,11,050
Sikkim
1,662
4,468
5,354
Tamil Nadu
8,16,190
9,35,894
10,08,132
Telangana
41
2,81,451
5,38,343
Tripura
7,083
14,737
22,251
Uttar Pradesh
6,08,670
8,46,594
13,36,917
Uttarakhand
47,996
72,202
85,385
West Bengal
3,28,485
3,88,837
5,85,752
PAN India
71,02,718
84,72,570
1,05,38376

Excluding Passport issued overseas and Diplomatic/Official passports issued directly by the Ministry.

The Minister of State for the External Affairs Gen. Dr. V. K. Singh (Retd.) provided this information in reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.
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Work Contract 
As per information made available to this Ministry by the Indian Missions/Posts in ten Middle East countries, including six GCC countries, there is no general pattern to indicate an increase in complaints against foreign employers by Indian workers in these countries. Details of complaints received by the Indian Missions/posts in these countries during the last three years are at Annexure-I. There has been no rise in the number of complaints received against recruiting agents also, over the same period. The details of complaints received against registered and unregistered recruiting agents during the last three years are given in Annexure-II.

At present, the work contract is signed only in English in all Middle East countries except United Arab Emirates (UAE). UAE Government has recently approved providing the work contract in nine more foreign languages, other than Arabic and English, which inter-alia includes Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil & Bengali.    

Steps taken by Government to sensitize the workers regarding their rights abroad are as under:-

(i)         As per the Rule 10(xiv) of the Emigration Rules, 1983, the registered Recruiting Agents are inter-alia mandated to provide details of employment, including contract conditions, to the intending emigrants before recruitment.

(ii)        The Ministry runs Awareness Campaigns in print and electronic media from time to time to educate potential emigrants about benefits or hazards of legal and illegal migration respectively.

(iii)       A 24X7 toll-free helpline viz. Overseas Workers Resource Centre (OWRC) [No. 1XXX XX 3090] has been set up in Gurgaon, Haryana, to enable emigrants & prospective emigrants to seek information prior to travel and also file complaints against Recruiting Agents/Foreign Employer, after/before emigrating.

(iv)       UAE is one of the top destinations for number of Indian workers going to Middle East countries. Additional measures taken by the Indian Mission in UAE to create awareness among Indian emigrants are at Annexure-III.

ANNEXURE - I

Number of complaints received in the Indian Missions/Posts in ten Middle East countries, including six GCC countries, during the last three years.


No.
Name of Mission
2013
2014
2015
2016
(Upto Feb/March 2016)
1.
Bahrain
820
821
833
92
2.
Iraq
-
18
301
50
3.
Jordan
Nil
Nil
03
Nil
4.
Kuwait
2443
3033
3493
414**
5.
Lebanon
Nil
Nil
Nil
Nil
6.
Qatar
     3965
3943
4132
787#
7.
Oman
1748
1358
1097
330
8
UAE
1104
1718
1936
383
9.
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
2866
3732
2921
630
10.
Sudan
Nil
Nil
Nil
Nil

**upto January, 2016.
# upto 7.03.2016
ANNEXURE -II


Number of complaints received against recruiting agents in the last three years


Year
No. of complaints against registered Recruiting Agents
No. of complaints against unregistered Recruiting Agents
2013
220
272
2014
170
170
2015
105
195
2016
(upto 29.02.2016)
25
15

(Source: Overseas Employment Division, MEA)

ANNEXURE-III

ADDITIONAL MEASURES TAKEN BY INDIAN MISSION IN UAE TO CREATE AWARENESS AMONG INDIAN EMIGRANTS

1.                  A book on “Guidelines for Indians” in UAE is uploaded on the website of the Embassy, which contains all the relevant information to provide enough awareness to the workers regarding assistance offered to them by the Government of India at the time of distress.

2.                  Apart from this, a series of information, educative and preventive measures have been adopted in India and UAE which are implemented by the Embassy.An “ Open House” for all Indian Nationals to meet the concerned officials in the Embassy/Consulate without any appointment between 10.00am - 12.00noon is held on all working days to address their grievances.

3.                  Prior vetting & attestation of employment documents, enforcement of Emigration Clearance at point of entry, minimum reference wage for employment of various ECR categories of Indian workers, including Indian female workers for whom minimum age for recruitment has been prescribed as 30 years.

4.                  To ensure payment of dues and proper treatment of ECR female workers, the Embassy/Consulate retain a refundable security deposit of Dhs 9200 (approx US$ 2500) from foreign employers.  This security deposit is refunded only after confirmation of payment of all the dues and safe exit of female worker from the UAE by the mission.

5.                  Embassy/Consulate also runs a shelter home offering temporary boarding/lodging to distressed Indian women workers pending their repatriation to India. A 24X7 multilingual toll-free helpline at the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) is in operation since November 2010 for addressing grievances of the Indian workers which also offers free initial legal, psychological and financial counselling to distressed Indians and also organizes awareness campaigns at prominent labour camps to educate the Indian workers. Grievances/complaints received from the Indian workers are appropriately taken up on case-by-case basis with the employers/local authorities for early redressal/resolution.

6.                  Since 2009, Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) has been funding several other welfare initiatives for Indian emigrants, including offering short term food and accommodation allowance, air-ticket at government cost for their repatriation to India, including transportation of the mortal remains, initial legal assistance and emergency medical help etc.

7.                  In addition to above, officials from the Embassy/Consulate visit jails, hospitals, police stations, immigration department and labour camps regularly to provide assistance in deserving cases.

(Some of the other Missions in the gulf countries are also taking similar measures to help Indian emigrants in distress)

The Minister of State for the External Affairs Gen. Dr. V. K. Singh (Retd.) provided this information in reply to a question in Lok Sabha today.
*****
Change of Address in Passports 
Address of the passport holder is printed on the additional data page of the passport. This page is laminated along with the primary data page containing the photo, name and other personal particulars of the passport holder, using a laminate paper with high security features. Change in address of the passport holder thus necessitates reprinting of the passport.

Application for change in address of the passport holder is processed in the same way, an application for reissue of a passport is processed including verification of address proof for new address; entry of the changed address data in the passport database; and, printing and issue of the new passport with changed address. The cost of the new passport booklet also remains the same. Hence, full fee is charged for change in address.

During the calendar year 2015, 6,31,870 applications for change of address were successfully processed and new passports issued. During the year 2016 till date, 1,34,813 applications for change of address were successfully processed.

The Minister of State for the External Affairs Gen. Dr. V. K. Singh (Retd.) provided this information in reply to a question in Lok Sabha today. 


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