Minister for Information, Infrastructure Development and Haj Roshan Baig on Sunday said a delegation would be taken to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid to request an increase in the State’s quota of Haj pilgrims.

Currently, the State’s quota is 4,977 pilgrims.

At a function organised here to launch the online draw of lots for selecting Haj pilgrims, Mr. Baig said the delegation would be led by Union Minister for Minority Affairs K. Rahman Khan.

Mr. Baig said private tour operators were exploiting pilgrims by charging up to Rs. 6 lakh to Rs. 7 lakh per person. Increasing the State quota would help community members from poor families to undertake the pilgrimage, he said.

Haj Committee of India chairman Mohammed Magoob Ahmed said Karnataka’s quota had been reduced from 7,000 to 4,977 pilgrims this year. The reason for the reduction was the ongoing construction at Haram Sharif in Saudi Arabia.

The Karnataka State Haj Committee received 17,182 applications till March 22, 2014, the last date for submission. Of the total applicants, 8,762 are men, 8,409 are women and 11 infants. Of the total applications, 871 belong to reserved category-A (above the age of 70 with a companion) and 478 applications to reserved category-B (fourth attempt). Of the total 4,977 State quota pilgrims, 3,628 are to be selected through the online draw of lots.

District-wise draw of lots would be held to fill the quota fixed based on the Muslim population in the districts. In the three districts of Gadag, Koppal and Yadgir, the number of applications received is less than the quota allotted. Excess seats, if any, will be re-allotted to other districts.

Pay-in slips with details of selected pilgrims can be downloaded from the websites of the Haj Committee of India and Karnataka State Haj Committee.

Mr. Rahman Khan said efforts would be made to get the State quota increased from next year. Minister for Labour Qamarul Islam was present.