Haj accommodation in keeping with guidelines: Government

New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) In the wake of reports of irregularities in the accommodation for Haj pilgrims, the external affairs ministry Friday said the arrangements were done in accordance with the established guidelines and the local conditions.

‘As and when information of such nature comes to the ministry’s notice, immediate remedial steps are taken in consultation with the concerned head of mission/post and their views and comments are sought,’ external affairs ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said, reacting to media reports regarding ssues relating to hiring of accommodation for Haj pilgrims in 2008.

‘It is hereby also clarified that, regarding this particular matter, a detailed explanation of the procedures followed for hiring of accommodation for Haj-2008 was provided by the post concerned and the suggestions made have been implemented,’ he said.

The spokesman added: ‘Due care is being exercised to ensure that accommodation hired both in 2009 and 2010 is strictly according to the guidelines laid down by the competent authority and in keeping with the local conditions.’

Media reports said tens of thousands of Indian pilgrims intending to perform the Haj this year are threatened by a looming crisis as they may find no accommodation in the holy cities in Saudi Arabia when they reach there in November.

Last year, around 160,000 pilgrims performed the Haj. While 110,000 pilgrims went for the pilgrimage through the Haj Committee, another 47,000 made private travel arrangements through Haj tour operators.

The government makes the arrangements for the pilgrims’ travel, their accommodation, food, safety and health facilities. The Haj pilgrimage this year starts in November.

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