KATHMANDU, June 28: The Nepal Hajj Committee is preparing to increase facilities for Hajj pilgrims this time in a qualitative approach. The Muslims are required to make the Hajj Pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina of Saudi Arabia once in their life. At a press meet here today, the Committee said the Hajj for this year is beginning from July 18 and strong management has been ensured for meals and accommodation facilities.
This year, 1200 people are scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia to observe the Hajj. Though the Committee, in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Ministry, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Nepali Embassy in Saudi Arabia, had tried to send about2,000 pilgrims for this 'holy journey', the quota could not be increased, according to Committee chair Shamser Miya.
The Hajj travelers will reach Saudi Arabia by July 26. One hundred and fifty people will travel to Saudi Arabia via Air Arabia flights on a daily basis. The Hajj includes a 42-day trip to Saudi Arabia. Though Saudi Arabia was requested to increase the quota for Hajj pilgrims from Nepal by 1000, there was a verbal assurance of allotting more 500 quotas. But, to no avail. Though the recorded data put the number of Muslim in Nepal at around 1.2 million, the present population of Muslim in Nepal is estimated to be around 1.5 million, according to him. The travel cost per Hajj pilgrim sums up to around Rs 2, 30,000. The amount shall be borne by the Hajj observer oneself.
Until last year, the Committee would refund Rs 10,000- Rs 15,000 each to the Hajj pilgrim, but this year it is not sure whether it would be able to continue due to a rise in the charge by the Saudi Arabia government. He demanded the government provide a grant to the Hajj devotees. A Hajj devotee has to pay Rs around 5,000 more than the past due to an increase in the value of Saudi Riyal. Chair Miya utilized the forum to refute media reports about alleged misappropriation of funds in air ticket and other management efforts. He described the report as just a 'propaganda', adding that the Committee was fully committed to its goals.