Lucknow, Aug 29 (IANS) Uttar Pradesh has been granted 560 extra seats for the Haj pilgrimage this year, after 1,533 pilgrims from India cancelled their trip to Saudi Arabia, an official said Thursday.
Abrar Ahmed, secretary of the state Haj committee, told IANS that he had sent a request to Haj Committee of India's chief executive officer Ata-ur-Rehman for extra seats as there is a waiting list of 1,743 people from the state.
With 1,533 people cancelling their bookings, Ahmed said Uttar Pradesh should be given this quota.
"Sadly, so far the central Haj committee had cleared only 560 extra seats," Ahmed said.
Officials said Saudi Arabia has slashed 20 percent of seats - 3,605 - from India. Under this cut, 941 seats from Uttar Pradesh have been affected.
The first flight carrying Haj pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh to Saudi Arabia will fly from Varanasi's Babatpur airport Sep 7.
Subsequent flights will take off from Lucknow and New Delhi Sep 9. Haj pilgrims from Sultanpur, Balrampur, Gonda, Shahjahanpur, Kannauj, Hardoi, Lakhimpur Kheri, Barabani, Etawah and 21 other districts will take their Haj flight from Lucknow, while pilgrims from other districts have been marked for New Delhi and Varanasi.