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Cabinet okays Nat’l Hajj, Umrah policy 1,01,758 to perform Hajj this yr

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mokkaStaff reporter
Some 1,01,758 Bangladeshis will perform Hajj this year as the Cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the ‘National Hajj and Umrah Policy, 1435 Hijri (2014 AD)’ and ‘The Hajj Package, 2014’, making slight changes in the existing Hajj Policy adding Umrah Policy to it.
The approval was given at the regular weekly meeting of the cabinet held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said that the proposed Umrah Policy has been added to the existing Hajj policy.
He said that a total of 1,01,758 Bangladeshis will perform Hajj this year.
Of them, he said, some 10,000 pilgrims will perform Hajj under the government arrangement, while 91,758 under the private arrangement.
Under the government management, there will be two packages. In the package one, the total cost will stand at about TK 3,54,316 while TK 2,95,776 for the package two. The total cost may vary due to the fluctuation of exchange rate of the US dollar and Saudi Riyal.
For both the packages, the cost of qurbani (animal sacrifice) of around TK 10,500 will be added to the total cost.
In case of private management, the minimum cost should not be less than TK 2,95,776 so that minimum facilities could be ensured for the pilgrims.
The Cabinet Secretary said that the number of hajj pilgrims is less in the current year than the previous year as Saudi government has reduced the quota for hajj pilgrims by 20 percent due to massive renovation works at the Haram Sharif.
According to the Saudi government, the holy Eid-ul-Azha will be celebrated on October 4 this year in Saudi Arabia subject to the sighting of moon.
Bhuiyan said the cabinet also okayed the drafts of ‘The Rangamati Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2014’, ‘The Bandarban Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2014’ and ‘The Khagrachhari Hill District Council (Amendment) Bill, 2014’.
The cabinet secretary said there are three hill district councils for the country’s three hill districts -- Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari.
These district councils have been constituted under three identical laws framed in 1989. Under these laws, there is a provision of formation of 34-member district councils through direct elections.
But, the government could constitute interim councils if there is no elected council. As per the laws, these are being run by five-member small interim councils.
Bhuiyan said the proposed amendments have been brought to strengthen the councils and run their additional responsibilities smoothly by expanding the size of the councils to 11 members. "It’ll ensure bigger the participation of all ethnic minority groups living in the three hill districts," he hoped.
About the formation of the three interim hill district councils, the cabinet secretary said that apart from the chairman, seven members will be picked from the ethnic minority groups, while the rest from non-ethnic minority communities.
Asked that whether the proposed amendment has been brought to give the interim hill district councils a permanent shape, he replied in the negative, saying that the government has no such "ill motive".
The meeting was also apprised the visit of the Health and Family Welfare Minister to Saudi Arabia and Switzerland on February 9-11.
Ministers and state ministers and secretaries concerned were present.

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