T.S. Ranganna

Three flights to leave from Mangalore this year

BANGALORE: The Haj Committee, Karnataka, has finalised the list of 6,000 Muslims from various parts of the State who will take the Haj pilgrimage this year. For the first time, three flights carrying 700 passengers will fly from Mangalore on October 20.

Giving details of the procedure for selecting the Haj pilgrims, Committee Chairman Mohamad Ghouse Basha said that the pilgrims from coastal areas, especially Mangalore and neighbouring towns, had been provided the facility of a direct flight to Mecca . He said 800 persons from Gulbarga and Bidar districts would travel via Hyderabad, and the remaining 4,500 would take flights from Bangalore. The first batch from Bangalore would start on November 7 and the last on November 19.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa would attend a function at Millers Idgah here on November 6 and see the first batch off, Mr. Basha said. He added that there were almost equal number of men and women pilgrims this year. Those in the age group of two to 16 were barred from going on the pilgrimage, he added.

He said that 22,000 persons had applied to go to Mecca, but only 6,000 could be selected through lottery. This was the quota allotted by the Central Haj Committee, which could approve a little more than 1,60,000 pilgrims from India. Pilgrims are selected by both the Haj Committees (1,04,000), the private tour operators (50,000) and the Union Government (around 10,000).

Accommodation

Mr. Basha said that pilgrims would be given accommodation in three different areas categorised into green, white and those in the Azizia locality. While the green category pilgrims have to pay Rs. 1,16,000 for accommodation in a place situated within 1,000 m from the Ka`ba, the white category pilgrims have to pay Rs. 1,06,000 to stay in a place within 1,000 m to 1,700 m from the shrine.

Those who had paid Rs. 1 lakh would be lodged in the Azizia locality situated beyond 1,700 m and within an 8-km radius of the shrine. Each pilgrim, on landing at Mecca would be given 2,500 Saudi riyals (around Rs. 32,000) for expenses in the holy town, out of the money paid by them.

Haj subsidy

Asked about the Union Government’s Haj subsidy, a senior officer said that it was only around Rs. 10,000 and even that was adjusted towards the loss incurred by the airlines, as they do it on no-profit no-loss basis. Most Muslims, he said, were unhappy about the hue and cry on payment of subsidy and have expressed their desire to opt for Saudi Arabian Airlines, instead, as it would cost them only an additional Rs. 6,000.

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