Minister for Haj, Wakf and Minority Welfare Mumtaz Ali Khan said here on Thursday that more than 680 pilgrims will leave for the Haj from Mangalore airport this year.

He was addressing a press conference here.

Mr. Khan told presspersons that the number of pilgrims might go up if candidates selected through the Government VIP quota chose to travel from the airport.

To a question, the Minister said that Haj Ghar would be built on a 3.5-acre plot at Hegde Nagar near Bengaluru International Airport at an estimated cost of Rs. 20 crore.

Mr. Khan said that the ghar would be utilised most only for two months during the Haj period. Hence there is a plan to rent out rooms for 10 months.

S. Mohammed Ghouse Basha Ashrafi, Chairman of the State Haj Committee, said that more than 7,134 pilgrims would perform Haj from the State this year.

The first aircraft for Haj from Bangalore would take off on October 24. The last aircraft would fly on November 7, he said. Referring to the Mangalore airport, Mr. Ashrafi said that unlike last year, the aircraft for Haj would directly fly from Mangalore to Makkah this year. The dates of travel from Mangalore are yet to be finalised. Later, the Minister and Mr. Ashrafi held a meeting with the director of the Mangalore airport M.R. Vasudeva.

Mr. Vasudeva told The Hindu that the old terminal building would be spared for the Haj camp.

All-Haj related processes will be done at the old terminal building, he said.

To a question, he said that the first aircraft was likely to take off from Mangalore either on October 10 or 11. It is yet to be finalised, he said.

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