Nearly 7,000 of the over one lakh pilgrims who are going for Haj in the government sector from the country would not be able to get the ‘Green' category of accommodation during their stay in Makkah this time. This is in contrast to the last year's situation where all the pilgrims in the government sector including the ones who went after obtaining the additional quota at the last moment were given the ‘Green' category of accommodation, which entitle a pilgrim to get accommodation facility in one kilometre distance from Haram, and Kaaba, the focal points of the pilgrimage in the holy city.
State Haj Committee chairman P.T.A. Rahim told The Hindu that a circular to this effect had been handed out by the Central Haj Committee to the State units. He, however, said the extra amount paid by the pilgrims for the ‘Green' category of accommodation, which was approximately Rs.18,000, would be refunded soon after their return.
It is yet to be ascertained how many pilgrims from Kerala would be denied the said accommodation facility. Usually, accommodation for Haj pilgrims is given in three categories of Green, White and Azeeziya. In the White category, accommodation will be given in 1 to 2.5 kilometre distance from the Haram while the Azeeziya category refers to accommodation facility in the area which is 5 km off Haram.
Mr. Rahim said that all the 7,000 pilgrims from India who would miss out on the Green category of lodging this time would only be given Azeeziya category accommodation. According to him, this happened mostly because of the delay on the part of the authorities in booking the required accommodation facility. “The Building Selection Committee from India went late this time owing to many reasons,” he said. The resignation of the Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor and a stay by the Delhi High Court on the appointment of the Central Haj Committee chairman at a crucial time were the other factors that led to the situation, he said.
The State Haj Camp at Karipur was running smooth, he said adding that all the flights schedule for the pilgrims from the State were also on time so far.