Government Policy

Cabinet nods Hajj, Umrah management bill to tackle irregularities

The cabinet on Monday approved the draft of the Hajj and Umrah Management Bill 2020 in principle to deal with irregularities and mismanagement in the sector.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina chaired the meeting, joining it virtually from Ganabhaban.

“Our Hajj and Umrah management has worked through a policy up to now. No legal action could not be taken against irregularities in many cases,” Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam told the media.

When the government makes a move against any agency, it brings a stay order from the High Court challenging the action, Anwarul said.

“So, we need a legal structure to deal with hajj management. Without having registration under the proposed law, no one will be able to deal with any Haji (Hajj pilgrim). And the registration authority can take action against irregularities.”

According to the bill, the registration of any Hajj and Umrah agency can be cancelled for anomalies.

Also, a Hajj agency can be slapped with a fine of maximum Tk50 lakh, while an Umrah agency with Tk15 lakh for irregularities, the cabinet secretary said.

“If any agency gets warnings for two years in a row, its registration will automatically be suspended for the same period. Also, lawsuits can be filed against criminal offences committed in the Hajj and Umrah management.”

Anwarul said the religious affairs ministry placed the bill in the cabinet following its directive issued in 2012 to enact a law instead of the existing policy.

“Saudi Arabia brought big changes in the Hajj management system in 2011. Also, India, Pakistan, Malaysia and

Indonesia enacted such a law,” the cabinet secretary said.

“After the enactment of the new law, if a Bangladeshi gets involved in Hajj-related irregularity even in Saudi Arabia, it can be treated that it happened in Bangladesh and legal steps including criminal and administrative actions can be taken.”

Also, the cabinet approved the draft of Highways Bill 2020 in principle, keeping provision of punishment for different offences.

“According to the bill, there will be specific places for pedestrian movement. And crops and goods will not be allowed on the highways for sun drying and other purposes. People will be penalised Tk1,000 to Tk5,000 for violating these rules,” said the cabinet secretary.

Also, if people make illegal infrastructures on the highway, they will face a maximum of two years of imprisonment or financial penalty.

“A fine of maximum Tk500,000 or two years of jail or both punishments will be handed for illegally setting up permanent infrastructure. The punishment will be maximum Tk50,000 or two years of jail or both punishments for setting up temporary infrastructure,” said the cabinet secretary.

The meeting also approved the Highway Landscaping Policy 2020 to bring lands beside the highways under proper management.

Also, the cabinet gave final approval to the draft of the Mongla Port Authority Bill 2020 to replace an ordinance of 1976, which was annulled by the court.

“The bill is largely a prototype of Payra Port Authority Law,” said Anwarul.

The cabinet also cleared the proposal of felling and removal of trees on 53.15 acres of forest in Tangail to lay gas transmission line from Dhanua to Elenga and west side of Bangabandhu Bridge-Nalka areas by Gas Transmission Company Limited (GTCL).

The forest department will plant new trees with the financial assistance of GTCL, said the cabinet secretary.

Source: United News of Bangladesh