External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj acknowledged that there have been shortcomings in arrangement for the pilgrims.
    
Addressing the All India Annual Conference for Haj, Swaraj identified accommodation for pilgrims as a major issue and said there was a need to think about a long-term solution to the problem and indicated that the government may go for having own accommodation for Indian pilgrims in Mecca and neighbouring areas.

"We can develop some complex in the area in cooperation with Saudi government. They can be used for Haj pilgrimage for three months. And for the remaining nine months, people going for Umrah and Ziyarat can stay there," Swaraj said.

The External Affairs Minister also said there were Indian properties in Mecca before independence and the government will enquire what happened to them.
    
"According to my knowledge, a large number of Indian properties were there in Mecca Madina before Independence, which is not there today. We need to inquire that what happened to the properties donated for Hajis," she said.

Swaraj also said that the contractors, who had acted against the contract or were negligent in offering services to the pilgrims in Mecca and adjoining areas, should be blacklisted and buildings should be taken from other contractors.
    
Commenting on cut in Haj quota from last year's 1.70 lakh to 1.36 lakh in the current year, she said the issue will be taken up with Saudi Arabia.

(Agencies)

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