Mumbai: With the Haj 2011 season fast approaching, over 600 private tour operators and 50,000 prospective pilgrims are in a quandary as the central government has not yet finalised the quota for them, a top official said.
The Indian Haj Umrah Association (IHUA) and Khaddaml Hujjaj Foundation (KHF) said the government`s delay has put a question mark over the people`s plans to go for Haj, make their travel and accommodation plans and other preparations.
"We submitted our application files promptly within the July 15 deadline, but the ministry of external affairs has yet to take any decision on the issue," KHF chief A.M. Athar told IANS.
Similarly, IHUA president Mufti A.R. Milli said the Haj season has virtually started but so far there is no move by the centre over the private Haj operators` quota allocations.
This year, the Saudi Arabian government had allocated a quota of 172,540 pilgrims from this country, Athar said.
While around 125,000 will go to perform Haj through the Haj Committee of India, the remaining shall go through private tour operators. How many pilgrims each operator gets to take is a quota decided by the government.
"While the Haj Committee will charge around Rs.1.25 lakh, we shall charge upto Rs.200,000 per head for the entire pilgrimage, all inclusive," Athar said.
The immediate impact of this would be a hike in air fares which the Hajis going through private operators would have to bear additionally, besides an increase in the cost of accommodation at various destinations during the Haj, he said.
India has over 150 million Muslims, next only to Indonesia and Pakistan in numbers.