Annual Haj pilgrimage on, newly built Haj House in Ghaziabad stands lockedUpdated: Jul 27, 2017, 23:04 IST
Although ‘Ala Hazrat Haj House’ was developed in Ghaziabad at the cost of Rs 51 crore in order to give assistance to Muslims on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia’s Mecca, the facility is currently non-operational.
Thousands of Haj pilgrims from western Uttar Pradesh are now moving to Delhi for proceeding to the annual pilgrimage. Several members of the Muslim community expressed anger at the situation and blamed the Yogi Adityanath government for the facility being non-operational.
The construction of the Haj House got completed during the previous regime, in September 2016. Former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav had inaugurated the facility, which is located close to river Hindon adjacent to GT Road.
“We were expecting that the pilgrims will arrive at the new Haj House and will face no difficulty in terms of accommodation and also getting their necessary documentation completed. Now, the pilgrims from western UP have to move to Delhi instead, to get the required documentation done. We have given representation to the district magistrate and other officials regarding the issue, but there is no response. It has become a waste of public funds,” said Imran Khan, national president of Muslim Maha Sabha.
The newly constructed complex, spread over an area of 4.3 acres, has ground plus six floors and includes 47 dormitory halls and 36 VIP rooms, and can accommodate 1,886 persons.
“Even before the Haj House was opened, the previous government had flagged off a bus of pilgrims last year. The government should be equal for all. The Haj House is non-operational, while all the necessary requirements for the Kailash Mansarovar Pilgrims’ House proposed nearby have been expedited. It seems that the present government is not supporting the cause of the Haj pilgrims,” said Sheesh Pal Yadav, a former councillor from Dasna, Ghaziabad.
The Haj House is currently locked and in a shambles with thickly overgrown grass and bushes. It is also caught up in litigation at the National Green Tribunal.
“We had contended that a portion of the facility has come up over the land of river Hindon and the illegal construction should be demolished. The case is being heard by the NGT,” said Akash Vashistha, convener of Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity, one of the petitioners in the case.
“We make it clear that any construction taken in the meanwhile shall be subject to the orders of the Tribunal passed in this application,” the NGT had said in its order dated September 2, 2016, while issuing notices to eight respondents to the petition.
However, UP minister of state for waqf Mohsin Raza said that the decision not to make the Haj House operational was taken up by the previous government, a stance continued by the current government.
“The decision was already taken up by the previous government as the matter was with the NGT even before the present government assumed office. It was taken up to protect the environment and the river ecology. In case thousands of pilgrims arrive here, it is bound to create garbage issues at the river zone. So, this was an earlier decision that was taken up to avoid any contempt of court,” Raza said.
Raza added that around 29,442 pilgrims will be going for the annual Haj this year from the state.
“Since the case is going on at the NGT, we will abide by the final decision. Arrangements have been made in Lucknow and Varanasi to assist the pilgrims. Those residing near Delhi are going for pilgrimage from there. The state and the Central governments have made arrangements for the same. The UP government is also bearing a share of expenses of the pilgrims,” Raza said.
The minister also added that the Haj House in Lucknow has major investment of public funds, but the facility is used for hardly a month every year. He said that the state government in now planning for imparting technical education to minority students at the facility and even a similar proposal is being chalked out for the Haj House in Ghaziabad.