Haj camp is a concept to enable all Hajis i.e., pilgrims proceeding to Holy Mecca from all corners of the State, to gather at one place and perform all their religious obligations required before leaving for Haj and also to simultaneously comply with all requisite official formalities involved in leaving the home land. This concept has been given boost by the Central Government and the Government of Andhra Pradesh is one among the few States to take up this noble task. In this endeavour, the Government of Andhra Pradesh have invited coordination and co-operation from all concerned agencies such as Airlines, Police (immigration), Customs, Bank etc., and successfully carried out Haj camp for two consecutive years ie., 2001 and 2002 so far.
Haj Camp, 2002:
The Haj camp 2002 was held in the newly constructed Haj House at Nampally. The first camp was held in the sprawling grounds of Miralam Idgah, Bahadurpura in the year 2001. The number of pilgrims in 2002 (through Haj Committee) has increased by 1000 from 3900 of the preceeding year.
Facilities provided at Haj camp:
The Central and State committees draw the plan according to which pilgrims arrive in the camp three days before their scheduled departure and attend to the religious courses and obligations at the camp. On completion of all the formalities they leave the camp on the third day. In this manner, on an average, nearly 450 to 500 pilgrims arrive at the camp every day and almost the same number (those who reported three days before) depart the camp. In other words, on any given day during the camp, there would be about 1500 to 2000 pilgrims present in the camp premises.
While tickets for the journey are mostly booked by the pilgrims much before the camp, Airlines also issues tickets to the pilgrims in the camp 48 hours before their scheduled departure. The check-in baggage is deposited with the Haj Committee. The pilgrims scheduled for that day have to report to the Airline counters in the camp with their check-in baggage 6 hours before the departure time and have to proceed to the immigration. After immigration they are directed to the Customs area.
Customs : Significance
Customs clearance to the pilgrims is the most important aspect of the camp in view of the reason that it is offered at the Camp premises itself. Nearly 500 pilgrims scheduled in two flights are cleared every day which means an 8 to 10 hours continuous job for the officials. Officers are required not only to run the Customs counters but also to help the pilgrims in obtaining foreign exchange from the bank counter installed in the Customs area, escort them to their seats and also to help them in all other related matters. All these items of work are to be carried out in the specified area of Customs in the Haj camp which is otherwise a very difficult task to handle at the Airport as it affects the clearance of other passengers bound by other flights in the Departure.
Customs Services (provided during previous camp):
A Control room is set up at the Customs Headquarters Office, Basheerbagh, Hyderabad with sufficient number of personnel equipped with wireless sets to coordinate with the officers posted at Haj camp and also to monitor the requirements of the pilgrims at the airport. X-ray machines are also provided to screen the baggage (check-in / hand baggage) under Customs supervision. Pilgrims are put at ease and comfort during the Customs clearance and staff deputed for the purpose extend cordial assistance to the pilgrims in getting cleared at Customs counters. Lady officers are also posted at the Camp.
The salient features of the Customs Rules and procedures on the allowance and clearance of baggage,in the form of a handy booklet, is distributed among the pilgrims and important points to be borne in mind are continuously announced by the officers on public address system at the camp.
The Customs cleared baggage is loaded on to the airlines trucks every day and escorted by the officers to the aircraft . The pilgrims are taken in coaches and escorted by the customs officials to the airport after fulfillment of customs formalities.
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