J&K seeks alternate arrangements for airlifting Haj pilgrims

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Srinagar, Nov 29 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir government today urged the Centre to provide alternate arrangements to airlift the Haj pilgrims from Srinagar airport in view of cancellation of flights for four consecutive days due to heavy fog and zero visibility here.

Officials sources told UNI that Mr Azad called up Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel today to apprise him of the situation arising out of the cancellation of Haj and other flights from Srinagar for four consecutive days.

They said Mr Azad requested Mr Patel to arrange small aircraft for airlifting the Haj pilgrims from Jammu in case they were taken there following cancellation of flights in the coming days as well.

''The matter is under active consideration of the authorities.

Everybody is concerned about the frequent cancellation of Haj flights. We cannot just sit over it and wait for weather conditions to improve...Something has to be done,'' the sources added.

The state government has sought small aircraft from the Union Civil Aviation Ministry as big ones cannot land at Jammu airport.

At a high-level meeting here yesterday, the Chief Minister had asked the State Haj Committee to keep an exigency plan ready for flying the pilgrims from Jammu in case weather continued to play the spoilsport, leading to cancellation of flights.

Mr Azad said Haj pilgrims could not afford to remain stranded for long as they have to arrive at Jeddah on time. ''Performing Haj is more important than flying from a particular point,'' he added.

The sources said if foggy weather conditions continue to prevail at Srinagar airport in the coming days, the authorities would shift the Haj pilgrims to Jammu by road on emergency basis.

However, they expressed the hope that weather conditions would soon improve going by the forecast of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) for tomorrow.

The weather office here predicted snow and rainfall at isolated places in Jammu and Kashmir tomorrow.

UNI

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