Union Minister of State for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on Sunday said the Centre and Haj Committee of India had started preparations to ensure a smooth and hassle-free Haj pilgrimage this year.
Inaugurating a renovated office of Maharashtra State Haj Committee here, Naqvi said it was the responsibility of the government to provide best facilities to Haj pilgrims and his ministry was working on a war footing for this.
“Every state should construct a Haj House and Minority Affairs Ministry is ready to help. We have written to the states in this regard,” he said. “The Centre is working hard so that like last Haj, this year’s Haj is also smooth and comfortable. For the first time, Minority Affairs Ministry had sent a delegation of officials to Mecca to take stock of preparations (last year). This time also a delegation of senior officials will visit Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Arrangements for Haj pilgrims were discussed at a meeting in December with Saudi ambassador to India Dr Saud Mohammed Alsati, he said. “During the last Haj too the Saudi Arabian authorities cooperated a lot. We have received several important suggestions on Haj pilgrimage and we are moving forward keeping in mind these suggestions,” the minister said.
A review meeting was held two months ago where issues of accommodation and transport facilities for Haj pilgrims, among other things, were discussed, he said. Discussions were also held with Civil Aviation Ministry to ensure availability of aircraft with modern facilities for pilgrims, he said. Applications for this year’s Haj would be accepted from January 2 to January 24. About 99,903 people went to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, for Haj from 21 embarkation points across India through the Haj Committee of India last year. Besides, 36,000 pilgrims went for Haj through private tour operators.