Special Correspondent

Hyderabad: The State government has sought waiver of the Rs. 900 user charges proposed to be collected from each Haj pilgrim by the GMR company at the new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport, Shamshabad. The government of India has been addressed a letter in this regard, said Minister for Minorities Welfare Mohd. Ali Shabbir.

Inaugurating the first orientation training camp for Hajis at Old Malakpet here on Sunday, he said the new Airport being a private one user charges were being collected. However, efforts were on to ensure that pilgrims were spared this fee.

A separate Haj terminal would come up at the Shamshabad Airport during the second expansion and this would be the first such terminal in the country. The Centre had given permission and the GMR had also agreed for it. However, for the time being all arrangements would be made for ablution and prayers for the Hajis at the Airport. The Haj Committee members and Ulemas would be visiting the Airport shortly to finalise the arrangements, Mr. Shabbir said.

He said a total of 6,404 pilgrims would be performing Haj this year from State. Efforts were on to get additional quota for the State. So far the enhanced quota of 14,000 promised by the Saudi Government for India had not come. Haj flights from the State would commence in the first week of November. The Saudi Airlines would carry the pilgrims directly from Hyderabad to Madina Munawara.

Appeal to pilgrims

Mr. Shabbir urged the pilgrims to be mentally prepared for hardships during the Haj as despite the best of arrangements problems did arise.

Hafiz Peer Shabbir Ahmed, MLC and former chairman, State Haj Committee, told the pilgrims not to adopt a complaining attitude but try to put up with inconvenience as they were going for worship. Later, Moulana Jamal-ur-Rahman, gave a discourse on the significance of Haj and Umrah.