PANAJI: The Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) secretary Saifullah Khan on Tuesday demanded ro roll back cancellation of Dabolim Airport as embarkation point for Haj Pilgrimage.

Saifullah told media persons that when he was chairman of Congress minority department in 2009 , he submitted representations to the then Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and MP Francisco Sardinha after which Dabolim international airport was made as one of the embarkation points for Haj pilgrimage.

He said that in the absence of embarkation point, Haj pilgrims from Goa and neighbouring areas of Maharashtra and Karnataka had to travel to Mumbai to board flights. The then Congress government started Dabolim as one of the embarkation point for the convenience of Haj pilgrims from Goa and other neighbouring areas.

Saifullah demanded that acting chairman of All India Haj Committee Shaikh Jina should try and retain Dabolim Airport as the embarkation point or else the pilgrims will face hardships including visiting the 18th floor of the Haj House in Mumbai. He also appealed to Jina to convince the Centre to set up Haj House in Goa.

Saifullah said that COVID-19 pandemic was an excuse since government is now taking steps to reopen schools and it shows that the threat of coronavirus has gone away completely. There should be at least one flight from Dabolim for the convenience of Goans and people from neighbouring areas and especially senior citizens.

Saifullah also appealed to the Government of India to review the cost of Haj travel which has been increased to 3.75 lakh per pilgrim. 

According to Saifullah, in 2019 two flights flew from Dabolim airport, one carried 160 Goan pilgrims and another carried 150 pilgrims from other States.