The Delhi State Haj Committee (DSHC) has been waiting for the last nine years for construction to start on the 5,000 square metres of land in Dwarka bought to build a new “Haj Manzil” in the capital when Sheila Dikshit was the Chief Minister in 2008. While the Revenue Department of the state government continues to sit on the file of the new “Haj Manzil”, the DSHC is operating out of a rented building at Turkman Gate that is owned by the DUSIB (Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board) and is used as a marriage hall when Haj operations are not underway.

Mohsin Ali, Deputy executive officer, DSHC, said, “At present, the DSHC comes under the revenue department of the state government. Unless the revenue department releases the funds for construction to begin, we cannot do anything. The Dwarka project has been waiting for a long time now to materialse.”

Sources confirmed that the rent and electricity bills of the current DSHC have also not been paid for years due to the conflict between the DSHC and DUSIB over dues.

Dwarka was chosen as a suitable location for the Haj Manzil due to its proximity to the airport, Inter-State Bus Terminal and metro.

Though last five years’ data shows that the number of pilgrims who embark from Delhi for Haj has decreased, the facilities available to handle even those pilgrims are not anywhere near standard.

For Haj pilgrims of nearby states like Punjab, Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh like Meerut, Muradnagar, Ghaziabad etc., the embarkation point is usually the Delhi airport. That is why a large number of pilgrims who embark from Delhi come from other states and only a small proportion of pilgrims who embark from Delhi belong to Delhi.

A source in DSHC said, “We have to set up tents and at times take nearby vacant rooms on rent to be able to provide for the pilgrims who gather a few days in advance before their departure. Since Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam, it is a big affair for the family if any of their members is going to Haj. At times, there are 15-20 people who come to see off two people going to Haj and we have to make arrangements for all. Haj Manzil is supposed to be the one-stop-shop for Haj pilgrims where they can wait in peace and comfort. However, the DSHC lacks the space and manpower to provide for all the requirements.”

Mohsin Ali said, “There is an emergent need for the Delhi Development Authority, Revenue Secretary, and Finance Secretary of the state and the Public Works Department to sit and chalk out a plan for the construction to begin in Dwarka. Unless they take an initiative, there is not much hope.”