ISLAMABAD -  Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Yousuf on Wednesday said that under the government scheme of the newly approved Haj Policy 2017, the expense of the pilgrimage would be Rs 280,000.

The Minister was addressing a Press conference, where he gave details regarding the new, comprehensive policy for pilgrimage this year, shortly after the Cabinet approved it in a session under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday.

He said that the Federal government would start accepting Haj applications from April 17. Yousuf said that the draw for the applications for the Government Haj Scheme will be held on April 28.

He said that this year 107,526 people will perform Haj officially, whereas, 71,684 people will undertake pilgrimage through private tour groups.

He said that every person will be able to perform Haj once within every seven years, adding, that private applicants will be eligible for the holy journey after five years.

The Federal Cabinet Wednesday approved the Hajj Policy 2017. Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif directed that maximum facilities be provided to the pilgrims.

He said that the Cabinet has restored the previous quota of Haj and it has decided to not swell the expenditure and retain the reserved amount of funds as per previous practice.

He said that the banks that will be accepting the applications included Habib Bank, United Bank, Allied Bank, Zarai Taraqiati Bank Limited and Bank Alfalah Limited.

Muhammad Yousaf laid out that no person would be sent on the pilgrimage free-of-cost.

He also said no person would be allowed to apply for government’s scheme before seven years of first Haj.

The restriction of Haj in government’s scheme has been stretched to seven years from the past limitation of five years.

Earlier today, the Prime Minister chaired a meeting of the Federal Cabinet and rejected proposal to hike the cost for pilgrims this year.

This year, the Haj Policy entails following services: Pilgrims will be provided fireproof tents at Arafat. 100 percent accommodation at Markazia in Madina. Cooked meals will be provided three times a day in Mina, Muzdalifah and Arafat.

For the disabled, separate lavatories will be ensured in Arafat, Mina and Muzdalifah.