India plans long-term lease in Makkah to house pilgrims

512 words 18 November 2011 Arab News ARNEWS English Copyright: Arab News © 2011. Provided by Syndigate.info, an Albawaba.com company

The proposal to hire buildings on at least 30 years' lease has been mooted by Consul General Faiz Ahmad Kidwai and is under study at government level in India, Khan told a press conference at the Indian Consulate General. Kidwai has already initiated talks with two parties in Makkah for constructing buildings as per Saudi standards and the requirements of Indian pilgrims, Khan added. "We have already identified two plots - one is about 65,000 sq. meters and the other is 50,000 sq. meters near Kudai parking close to Le Meridien Hotel in Makkah," said Kidwai. In principle it has been agreed upon between the developers and the consulate that the buildings will be leased for housing Haj pilgrims for 30 years. During the rest of the year, the owners will be free to rent them out to Umrah pilgrims, said Khan, who is deputy chairperson of Rajya Sabha (upper house of Indian Parliament). "This is a wonderful proposal and the Indian government is studying it. Once the consulate gets a go-ahead, the buildings will be constructed in three years time," Khan, said. Kidwai said presently the consulate hires around 600 buildings in different areas of Makkah to accommodate 125,000 pilgrims, who come through the Haj Committee of India. "If we reach an agreement with a developer for a long-term lease, then we will be able to house all our pilgrims in one area, which will help us in taking better care of them. All pilgrims will get same level of service and facilities as per their requirements. Moreover, Indian pilgrims will be sure of their accommodation in one place and the market pressure will not wreak havoc on us," Kidwai said. Speaking about this year's Haj operations, Khan lauded Saudi officials for making excellent arrangements. "Under the guidance and able leadership of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, the authorities made flawless arrangements. The quality of service is improving every year," Khan said. The goodwill delegation also met several Saudi dignitaries to convey their appreciation and satisfaction over the outstanding planning and preparations for the smooth and most successful Haj, and congratulated them for making the pilgrimage easier and hassle-free for all, Khan said. Khan also had a word of praise for the Indian mission in general and Kidwai and Haj Consul B.S. Mubarak in particular for their tireless efforts to serve Indian pilgrims. "I thank Kidwai and Mubarak for their good work. They deserve accolades as it was due to their hard work that Indian pilgrims performed Haj with ease," Khan said. The delegation comprising 25 members included Sultan Ahmad, federal minister of state for tourism; M.I. Shanavas and Mohammad Adeeb, both members of Parliament; and Abdul Rahim Rather, finance minister of Jammu & Kashmir state, in addition to political, social and religious leaders.

Saudi Research & Publishing Company Document ARNEWS0020111118e7bi0001d .The delegation inspected arrangements made for the Indian pilgrims in Makkah. Mina and Madinah and met with the pilgrims from different states and regions of India.

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