Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has slashed the number of Hajj pilgrims, including from India, by 20 percent this year, citing massive ongoing construction work aimed at expanding grand Mecca mosque as a reason behind the decision.

"The decision to reduce the numbers of pilgrims at home by 50 percent and abroad by 20 percent is exceptional and temporary until the completion of the expansionist projects at the Holy Sites," Saudi Minister of Hajj Bandar bin Mohammed Hajjar said on Sunday.

As per the Hajj agreement signed with Saudi Arabia, India's quota for Hajj-2012 was 170,000. The decision to slash the quota would reduce the number of Indian pilgrims this year.

Many countries like Egypt have decided to send their envoys to Saudi Arabia to request Riyadh to re-consider the decision.

(Agencies)

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