Srinagar: Air India will operate direct flights from Srinagar to Jeddah to ferry this year's Haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said on Tuesday.

"The direct operations of Haj flights by the Indian Airlines would make the pilgrimage smooth and relieve the intending Haj pilgrims of the burden of transshipment from one aircraft to another," Omar said while chairing the Haj Committee meeting here.

The direct Haj flights from Srinagar were introduced in 2008 but stopped in 2010.

Asking the Haj Committee to put in place all efforts in providing best possible facilities to the pilgrims, Omar said every care should be taken for their accommodation, stay at Haj House, immigration and custom clearance, etc.

He directed the Haj Committee to publish a guide book for the pilgrims indicating details of the facilities, emergency service, enquiry and related issues that would prove helpful to them in Saudi Arabia.

The chief minister said this guide book should be provided to all the Haj pilgrims. He also directed for providing SIM Cards as introduced during Hajj-2011 to 'Khudam-ul-Hujaj' so that they could be contacted by the pilgrims in the hour of need.

The meeting was informed that highest number of over 9,100 pilgrims would be performing Haj this year as the Haj quota for the state has been increased from last year's 8,441 to 8,670 this year which is highest in last four years.

In addition to this private Haj Operators are facilitating 500 intending pilgrims.

In a presentation Commissioner Secretary Haj and Auqaf, BA Runiyal gave details of the arrangements and preparedness for Haj-2012.

He said the first Haj flight will take off from Srinagar on September 17 and each day 270 pilgrims will be carried from Srinagar to Saudi Arabia.


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