KOCHI: Around 1.2 lakh Haj pilgrims will leave for Mecca from 22 embarkation points in the country this year, said All-India Haj Committee chairman Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser.
The first Haj team from the State will leave from the Cochin International Airport on August 22.
Speaking to reporters at the Cochin International Airport, after attending a meeting of the State Haj Committee, Ali Kaiser said that additionally, around 36,000 pilgrims would embark on the holy trip though various private agencies.
The Saudi Government has reduced the Haj quota of various countries this year, in the wake of the developmental projects being undertaken in Mecca. There is a 20 per cent reduction in the Haj quota of India. Hence, the Indian Government had to restrict the number of pilgrims this time, despite a substantial rise in the applications. "From the 76,000 applications received in Kerala, only 10,000 were selected. Haj services from the Calicut airport will resume only after the airport receives permission from the Director General of Civil Aviation for operating wide-bodied aircraft. This year, the entire travel schedule of pilgrims got delayed due to the changes brought about by the the Saudi Government in issuing visa," he said.