Haj tour operators demand release of quota
With the Haj
2011 season fast approaching, over 600 private tour operators and
50,000 prospective pilgrims are in a quandary as the central
government has not yet finalised the quota for them, a top
The Indian »
The Bombay High Court Monday stayed the allotment of Haj quota to
private tour operators till Sep 23 and sought a reply from the
central government on the issue, a lawyer said.
The division bench comprising Justice P.B. Majumdar and Justice
R.M. Savant was hearing a bunch of over 20 pleas filed by Haj tour
operators, said the petitioners' lawyer Aftab Diamondwalla.
Advocate S. Sethna, representing the central government, sought
time to file a reply following which the court put off the hearing
till Sep 23.
According to Diamondwalla, the petitioners were deprived of their
quota following last-minute change in rules by the external
affairs ministry and their share (of quota) was allotted to new
A quota of 45,491 pilgrims had been allotted to 568 new private
tour operators (PTOs), without assigning any valid reasons, he
This year, 172,540 Haj pilgrims from India are scheduled to go on
the pilgrimage, according to All India Haj Umrah Tour Organisers
Association (AIHUTOA) general secretary R.S. Bhikhan.
While around 125,000 will go to pilgrimage through the Haj
Committee of India, the remaining shall go through private tour
Last week, the prospects of nearly 10,000 pilgrims were
jeopardized following the sudden cancellation of licences of 170
private tour operators by the government.
The licences were cancelled after the ministry revised the
eligibility criteria for private Haj tour operators, said AIHUTOA
chairman Ibrahim Kolsawala.
The first batch of pilgrims for the most awaited Muslim holy
pilgrimage is scheduled to leave Sep 29, and a majority of the
affected victims were from Mumbai, he said.
One of the criterion stipulated by the central government was that
the private Haj tour operators must have a 250 square feet office.
Since around 170 operators failed to meet the new criteria, their
licences to conduct Haj 2011 pilgrimage were cancelled and 125 new
operators were included in their place, he said.
"This is arbitrary, unjust and will entail collective losses of
over Rs.50 crore to these 170 Haj operators," Kolsawala told IANS.
The services provided by the private tour operators include visa
arrangements, tickets and insurance, accommodation in Makkah and
Madina, food, transportation, tour guides and medical assistance.