Haj pilgrimage to be made smoother: Pranab


New Delhi : In order to make the Haj smoother for the thousands of Indians pilgrims going to Makkah and Madinah in Saudi Arabia, the government has set up two committees to recommend measures for improvement, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said here Friday.

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While an expert group on Haj will recommend ways for further improvements in Haj management, another committee will look into the reforms of the existing system of management of the Haj pilgrimage, Mukherjee said at the All India Haj Conference.

"Both the committees have held several rounds of discussions and their recommendations will help the government in further improving Haj management," he said.

Mukherjee also supported a plan by the Haj Committee to computerise the Haj arrangements by linking all the state Haj Committees.

"The use of information technology in Haj management would significantly improve the speed and efficiency of the services rendered to pilgrims," he said.

"Pilgrim data is already computerised by the consulate in Jeddah and can be accessed through the consulate's website," the minister added.

Over 150,000 Indian pilgrims performed Haj last year.

"This was due to the government of the Khadim Al-Haramain Al-Sharifain granting an additional quota of 10,000 pilgrims to India for which we are grateful," the minister said.

"I would request the government of Saudi Arabia to at least maintain the same quota of 157,000 for this year given the increasing desire of Muslims in India to perform Haj," he added.