A narrow by-lane off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass leads to the new Trinamool Bhavan, one of the Kolkata offices of West Bengal’s ruling party.
The first batch of 326 Haj pilgrims for Saudi Arabia flew from the city airport today. Minister of urban development and municipal affairs and housing Firhad Hakim was present at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International airport to see off the pilgrims this morning.
The flight carrying around 109 pilgrims from Kolkata, 178 from East Burdwan and remaining from other parts of West Bengal and the neighbouring state of Bihar, took off at around 9.30 am today.
Notably, Haj pilgrims from the state this year have raised questions about higher ‘Azizia’ or the amount to be paid for the religious tour from Kolkata embarkation point being higher as compared to other cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Mumbai.
According to official sources in the state Haj committee, queries from several religious tourists have poured in on the higher charges that a pilgrim has to pay for embarkation from Kolkata.
Taking in account the higher amount of Azizia that has drawn the ire of many pilgrims, the state chief secretary, yesterday, shot a letter to the Centre, urging it to review the amount.
Pointing out that a pilgrim has to pay around 70,000 more than that of what their counterparts in Mumbai, Hyderabad or Bengaluru have to shell out, the state chief secretary, HK Dwivedi’s letter mentioned that the difference in charges were never so huge in the past and remained within a range of a few thousand rupees to around Rs 25,000.
Giving a comparative data on the charges of the three cities since the year 2014, the letter read, “A pilgrim from West Bengal and Kolkata embarkation point has to pay Rs 3,76,339.
This amount is more than Rs 70,000 higher than what a pilgrim from Bengaluru (Rs 3,03,921), Hyderabad (Rs 3,05,173) and Mumbai (Rs 3,04,843) has to pay. This difference in charges is so huge that the government is flooded with complaints from intending haj pilgrims.”
Terming the amount to be ‘highly discriminatory,’ the chief secretary has urged the Centre for a review of the amount. Echoing the assertions, Mr Hakim also took to social media last evening and condemned the ‘discrimination of Hajis from Bengal