Pvt Haj tour operators: Govt to take steps to curb irregularities
First flight to Haj from Mangalore takes off
External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said that the government will bring reformation to curb irregularities in the Haj tours being conducted by private tour operators in the country.
Addressing Haj pilgrims at the inaugural of the first Haj flight from Mangalore at Ansar English Medium School near Mangalore Airport here on Sunday, the Minister said that the issue of private tour operators violating norms while conducting Haj tours has been brought to the notice of the Ministry. “We will make Haj tour in the country more scientific, transparent and functionally effective based on the suggestions of Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker Rehman Khan and other Muslim leaders,” he added.
1,60,000 lakh pilgrims
Krishna said that a total of 1,60,000 pilgrims including 1,15,000 through Haj Committees and 45,000 via private tour operators are performing Haj from India this year. While 700 Haj pilgrims will take off from Mangalore Airport this year, infrastructure will be developed to provide opportunity for more pilgrims from Coastal Karnataka, Malnad and North Kerala, he added
Officials of External Affairs Ministry, Civial Aviation Ministry, Air India and Haj Committee members have already held discussion with Saudi Arabian officials to make arrangements for the safety and welfare of Haj pilgrims from India. The Saudi Arabian government will provide all basic facilities for the pilgrims from our nation at Jeddah, Mecca, Madeena, Munawara and Mina-Arafat.
The scheme of distributing compensation to pilgrims, in case they miss their baggage and purse during their journey, introduced in 2004 has been extended for this year too. Currency exchange counters will be opened at all airports for the convenience of pilgrims, he explained.
Krishna said that issuing international passports to pilgrims and checking swine flu were the two challenges before the Ministry this year.
Ministry is well prepared to face the challenges, he said adding that the Medical Mission of India in Saudi Arabia has already made all preparations to check swine flu.
The Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate General of India in Jeddah have been given the responsibility of taking care of Indian pilgrims. Pilgrims can contact Indian Embassy counters at Jeddah, Mecca-Mukaramha, Madeena, Munawara and Mina-Arafat in case of any inconvenience.
Government has already sent 900 personnel including ‘Khadimul Hajajs,’ administrative staff and doctors to Jeddah, Krishna said.
State Minister for Haj and Wakf Dr Mumthaz Ali Khan demanded that a Supreme Court judge should probe the allegations of misappropriations in the Haj quota allocations.
He said that there is no provision in the Haj Act 2002 for Haj quota reservation for VIPs. However, about 11,000 seats are being allotted every year to VIPs, he pointed out adding that private tour operators violate all rules by charging upto Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 lakh.
Mumthaz Ali Khan said that a permanent Hajghar should be opened in Mangalore for the convenience of Haj pilgrims. “This can be made possible if the central and state governments take initiative,” he added. Further, he urged that Muslims above 65 years should be given preference while preparing the Haj list.
Former Union Minister B Janardhana Poojari announced that Rs 2 lakh will be donated for the construction of a permanent Hajghar in Mangalore by the Kudroli Sri Gokarnatheshwar Temple Committee. Ullal Darga Khazi Syed Abdul Rehman Kunhi Koya Thangal, Udupi Khazi Bekal Abdul Musliyar, former Union Ministers Oscar Fernandes, Coastal Karnataka Development Authority Chairman B Nagaraj Shetty, MLAs U T Khader, B Ramanatha Rai, Joint Secretary to Gulf Anil Kumar and Haj Committe Executive Officer Niyaz Ahmed were present on the occasion.