Monday, August 21, 2017 07:51:59 PM
Sanwar Hossain :
Uncertainty looms over performing Hajj by some 10,000 pilgrims this year because of severe mismanagement of the Hajj agencies, their carelessness and profit boosting tendency, Hajj aspirants have alleged.
With just two weeks to the annual Muslim pilgrimage of the Hajj, only 58361out of 1, 27,198 eligible Bangladeshi pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia until Saturday, the Bangladesh Hajj office in Makkah said.
The Hajj will fall on August 30, depending on moon sighting. Saudi authorities will issue visa for pilgrims until August 17 and the last Hajj flight from Dhaka is scheduled to leave on August 26.
Meanwhile, Biman may face serious shortage of carriers and additional slots, as agencies failed to provide passengers scheduled flights.
"Though agencies are assuring the Hajj aspirants of providing last minute visas but scheduled flights cancellation led to a loss of about Tk 40 crore revenue due to lack of passengers," said Sakil Meraj General Manager of Public Relations, Biman Bangladesh.
"Last minute pressure of passengers may cause carrier shortage though we are adjusting pilgrims' flights with the regular flights along with additional slots arrangements," Meraj added.
It is alleged that like 2015 and 2016, the agencies have failed to deliver proper and smooth services to the pilgrims. Lack of adequate monitoring by the Religious Affairs Ministry, illegal syndication among ministry employee, Hajj agencies and Biman insiders, who are taking brisk business opportunity, has created such complexities and uncertainty over the flights of pilgrims.
Profit-merger Hajj agencies made delay to rent houses at Makkah and Madina at cheap cost and failed to submit papers for visa clearance on due time, which caused such flights cancellation.
Till date, 25 hajj flights of the national flag carrier Biman Bangladesh have been cancelled due to shortage of pilgrims. For adjustment, Biman bought 14 additional Hajj slots from the Saudi authority of which 2 slots have been lost due to cancellation of flights due to passenger shortage on Saturday and Sunday.
Other reasons for not issuing visas for the pilgrims on time were increased Muallem fees, electronic visa processing system by the Saudi embassy in Dhaka which required documents of pilgrims like national identity card and police clearance and sudden imposition of additional 2000 Saudi Riyal by the embassy equivalent to TK 44000 on the repeat pilgrims who performed Hajj in 2015and 2016.
Till Sunday, as 90 Hajj tour operators failed to book flight tickets, arrange accommodation in Saudi Arabia for the pilgrims, as many as 13,415 pilgrims despite having visas could not fly to perform Hajj, according to the Hajj office at Askona in the capital.
According the Hajj office source, some 127,198 pilgrims have registered for performing Hajj from Bangladesh this year under government and private managements. A total of 1, 07,198 pilgrims have so far received visa and 60,510 pilgrims have already been carried to Saudi Arabia for performing Hajj. Biman has carried 28,179 pilgrims and Saudi Arabia Airlines 32, 331 pilgrims to Hajj destination.
Of them, 4,200 pilgrims will perform Hajj under the government management and 1, 22,998 pilgrims will perform Hajj under private management.
Some 66,000 pilgrims are yet to receive visa though the deadline of visa assurance by the embassy is August 17.
Joint Secretary (Hajj) of Ministry of Religious Affairs Md Hafiz Uddin told the New Nation that the pilgrims who have registered will not be left behind.
"We are keen to solve any complexity on Hajj issue and working on it. The Ministry has taken initiatives so that pilgrims receive visa on time and can fly to perform holy Hajj," Hafiz Uddin said.
"Strict actions including fine, cancellation of license will be taken against the agencies failing to send pilgrims," he added.
"Nobody will be left behind who have registered. Agencies are lobbying for visa in the embassy and receiving also, so we hope till August 26 all the pilgrims will be carried to the Hajj destination, the Ministry's Joint Secretary affirmed.
When contracted, General Secretary of the Hajj Associations of Bangladesh (HAAB) Shahdat Taslim told the New Nation that they are going to place a 4 point demand to the Biman Bangladesh and the Ministry of Religious Affairs for adjustment with additional steps for carrying pilgrims properly to Hajj destination.
According to Taslim, HAAB will request Biman to arrange additional 14 slots with the 11 slots that Biman has already arranged.
They will also request Biman to cancel other route flights and accommodate Hajj pilgrims in those flights.
Besides, the HAAB will request the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) to persuade the Saudi Airlines to carry more pilgrims.
Meanwhile, questions have arisen over the misuse of Tk 10 crore tax prayer's money by allocating to different members of parliament, powerful government employees and ministers' close people to perform Hajj free of cost.
Of 4200 Hajj pilgrims under government management, 318 pilgrims are going to Saudi Arabia at the cost of the state, according to a press statement issued and signed by the Deputy Secretary (Hajj) Md Sarafat Zaman of the Ministry of Religious Affairs on August 6.
It shows that among 318 pilgrims, 81 were from the election area of the minister Professor Motiur Rahman. Besides, 4 members of parliament, 50 staffers of Bangabhaban, Prime Minister Office and Sudhasadan are on the list of the priveleged.
Though the state fund was reserved for different classes, occupational and devotional worshipers to perform Hajj, it is alleged that very few of them get such chance. Rather influential lobbyists from different government offices get chances of performing Hajj at state cost, which is tax payers' money.
There are allegations that an inter ministry syndication is doing brisk business by taking lump-sum donation and thus allocate to influential people to go for Hajj at state cost and thus misusage the state fund set aside for devotional worshipers of the country.
The HC has ordered to take steps within 48 hours for sending Hajj pilgrims who still could not fly for flight disruption.
Justice Syed Md Dastagir Hossain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan came up with the order and rule following a writ petition filed on Sunday.
A writ petition was filed with the High Court (HC) on Sunday morning seeking its order to form a probe body to find out the reasons behind the mismanagement of hajj flights operated by Bangladesh Biman.
High Court lawyer advocate Munjil Morshed filed the public interest litigation writ petition making five government officials, including the secretaries of Religious Affairs Ministry, Foreign Affairs Ministry and Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, defendants.
The writ also sought a court directive to solve the visa crisis within 48 hours through communicating with the Saudi Arabia embassy in Dhaka.
REPEATED environmental disasters seem to take heavy toll on the people of this country this year. Followed by unprecedented off-season heavy rainfall, landslides, flash floods and the ongoing floods again, the newest woe that hits the people is unprecedented river erosions in the north and middle parts of the country. ...
A day after his omission from the team, top order batsman and most consistent performer in the longer version cricket Mominul Haque was recalled to the Bangladesh's squad on Sunday for the first Test against touring Australia scheduled to begin on August 27 at Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium (SBNCS) in ...
Miss Supranational 2016 Srinidhi Shetty is an engineer, model and soon to be actress. Srinidhi started her pageant career after she finished her engineering degree from Bengaluru. She then participated in Yamaha Fascino Miss Diva 2016 and Miss Supernational 2016. 2016 has been Srinidhi's reigning year as Miss Supranational and ...
AFP, Baghdad :Iraqi forces on Sunday launched an assault to retake the northern city of Tal Afar from the Islamic State group, after ousting the jihadists from Mosul last month.Tal Afar lies around 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of second city Mosul, which Iraqi forces recaptured in early July in ...
British athletics great Mo Farah will hope his final track race on home turf on Sunday will have a happier ending than last Saturday's world 5,000 metres final. The 34-year-old, who will compete in the 3,000 metres at the Diamond League meeting in Birmingham, produced a courageous performance just falling ...
A EUROPEAN conference on Sundarbans started in German capital Berlin yesterday to discuss how to protect the world's greatest mangrove forest from destruction at a time when our government is determined to continue with the construction of the giant Rampal Coal-fired Plant. It is being built as a joint venture ...
Sonam Kapoor had reportedly signed on for the movie adaptation of Anuja Chauhan's Battle For Bittora opposite Fawad Khan. But the film never materialised as relations between India and Pakistan soured. Now, the buzz is that she's been signed on for another movie adaptation of Anuja Chauhan's The Zoya Factor. ...
AP, Guahati :Rising floodwaters have inundated large parts of a famous wildlife reserve park in northeastern India, killing more than 225 animals and forcing hundreds of other animals to flee, the park director said Saturday.Around 15 rhinos, 185 deer and at least one Royal Bengal tiger have died in the ...
THE country is apparently facing acute food shortage; which is evident from a government decision to increase food grains import to 20 lakh tonnes this year from earlier announced import at 11 lakh tonnes. The cause of the sudden rise in import is that the country has lost over 20 ...
Even though once and still considered a taboo, Suicide and depression are rarely the theme of films in Indian cinema. Depression is alarmingly rising in the youth and adults in India making it a major cause of concern. Depression is usually caused by traumatic experiences, bad relationships, anxiety, and low ...
VOA News :As U.S.-backed forces continue to make slow progress in their offensive to oust Islamic State (IS) from its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa, thousands of civilians who are trapped in the city face an increasing danger of getting caught in crossfire, rights organizations and local activists warn.Officials from the ...