Special bogies or train to be pressed into service, if needed
Rs. 650 crore set aside as Haj subsidy
Over 2.7 lakh Haj applicants this time
MALAPPURAM: Union Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed said here on Saturday that the Railway would have special quota for Haj pilgrims to help them reach different embarkation points in the country. Special consideration would be given to pilgrims going to Mecca via Kozhikode, Indore, Varanasi, Aurangabad, and Guwahati, he said.
The Minister was inaugurating a Haj training camp on the Khilafat campus at Pookkottur, near here, on Saturday. He said special bogies or even a train would be pressed into service for Haj pilgrims, if required. Mr. Ahamed said the Railways would ensure confirmed tickets for the pilgrims applying through the Haj committees.
“We have given directions to the Railway authorities to ensure good facilities for the pilgrims at all railway stations. Facilities would be improved at the Kozhikode Railway Station through which a large number of Hajis reach Karipur, the embarkation point in the State,” he said.
Mr. Ahamed, who was in charge of Haj as Minister of State for External Affairs in the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Cabinet, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would soon visit Saudi Arabia as part of India’s efforts to strengthen ties with the Gulf country. He said the Centre had kept aside Rs. 650 crore for the benefit of the pilgrims as Haj subsidy. There were more than 2.7 lakh applicants for the pilgrimage this time, and 1.25 lakh of them could not be considered, he said.
Mr. Ahamed said it was the UPA government that had increased the Haj quota to 1.65 lakh, and embarkation points to 17. There were 13 embarkation points till a few years ago.
Sayed Hyderali Shihab Thangal, district president of the Indian Union Muslim League, presided. K. Mohammedunni Haji, MLA, welcomed the gathering.