23 Oct :The Government of India make elaborate arrangements for the welfare of Haj pilgrims and strives to improve the facilities provided to them every year. It makes arrangements to facilitate the transportation of the Haj pilgrims going to Saudi Arabia through the Haj Committee of India and facilitates provision of accommodation and other logistical support for them. For efficient management and supervision of Haj arrangements, a large contingent of seasonal local staff, supervisors, data entry operators, drivers and messengers is appointed by Consulate General of India, Jeddah during Haj period. Every year, a contingent of more than 600 personnel comprising 3 Coordinators, about 135 doctors (including specialists with post-graduate degrees), 140 nurses and other para-medical staff, 46 Assistant Haj Officers, 170 Haj Assistants and about 200 Khadimul Hujjaj are sent from India on short-term deputation to Saudi Arabia. Extensive medical orientation is provided to the pilgrims in the community centres set up in Makkah and Madinah by the Consulate General of India, Jeddah. During Haj 2007, 60-bedded admission facility was upgraded to 75-bedded admission facility in Makkah and 15-bedded in Madinah. Besides that, 12 branch offices-cum-dispensaries in Makkah and 6 in Madina were set up for Haj pilgrims.
Three medical teams at Jeddah Airport were available to provide round the clock medical assistance to Haj pilgrims. Medicines provided at these dispensaries and hospital are being supplied from India and procured locally. Seventeen ambulances were pressed into service last year. Of these seven ambulances were sanctioned in 2006 and eight additional ambulances were provided in 2007 which added substantially to the medical facilities for the pilgrims. A system of First Information Report is followed in the case of all the pilgrims who are 70+ years of age in order to ensure that the concerned pilgrims receive specialised medical care.
The Government also make arrangements in India for polio, meningitis and influenza vaccinations for the pilgrims. The Haj Committee of India in coordination with the State Haj Committees provides to the pilgrims information regarding confirmation of their seats, travel documents, transportation, accommodation, release of foreign exchange, embarkation points and departure dates etc. For direct Haj flights from India, Varanasi was added as 16th embarkation point in 2007 and Indore has been added as 17th embarkation point for 2008. The Government have taken a number of decisions to streamline the functioning of Private Tour Operators so that they provide proper services and facilities for the pilgrims. The Government provide adequate funds every year for these requirements.