Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD: Faced with increasing number of applications for Haj pilgrimage, the State Government has requested Centre to release 500 additional seats under its discretionary quota. As against the State's allocated quota of 6,806, the State Haj Committee received 9,225 applications by the closing date on July 27. Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy who was informed by the officials that the Saudi Government had recently granted permission for 16,500 additional pilgrims from India this year, reportedly requested the Centre to increase the State's quota.

Dr. Reddy, who is said to have telephoned the Minister of State for External Affairs Ebrar Ahmed told him about the representation made by Arfath Tours, Haj & Umrah Group for grant of permission for additional members. As against the request made for 300 members, the Union Government had granted permission for 85. It should grant permission for the balance 215 as requested by Arfath Tours, he said.