The Saudi government has indicated to India that it has decided to cut down the number of Haj pilgrims this year due to an expansion being undertaken in the holy cities there.

Responding to a question on the reduction of India’s quota of Haj pilgrims this year, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said on Friday that the Saudi government has indicated that 50 per cent of the domestic pilgrims would be reduced and 20 per cent from all over the globe.

“This is a norm that they (Saudi Government) has set for everyone, and they have requested us to abide by that norm. We have received this response,” he said.

The spokesperson said that in view of the expansion in the holy cities, they would not have the capacity to absorb so many pilgrims for the forthcoming Haj.

“There is a Haj Conference which deliberates all aspects of India’s Haj policy. This consists of representatives of all State Haj Committees as well as the Central Haj Committee and the Government of India. This conference is to be held in the last week of this month. Based on the consultations and views expressed at that conference, the government of India will take a view of the new circumstances,’’ the spokesperson said.