As many as 125 Haj pilgrims would be on the first direct flight to Medina from Gaya on Monday afternoon.
“Chief minister Nitish Kumar met the pilgrims at Haj Bhavan in Patna this evening,” Bihar State Haj Committee president Anisur Rahman Qasmi said over phone from Patna on Sunday.
Two Air India flights will take off from Gaya airport at 12.30pm and 2.30pm. Both the flights would carry 125 pilgrims, Qasmi said.
The two flights will be operated daily from September 17 to October 6 from Gaya airport. Forty return flights from Jeddah airport, 330km from Mecca, to Gaya airport will be operated from November 1 to 20.
Air India sources said at least 24 employees have been called from other centres to look after the Haj flight operations.
Other preparations at the Gaya airport for the pilgrims are almost complete.
Mohammad Nehalauddin, the in-charge of Haj affairs at Gaya airport, said a pandal has been set up on airport around 100m north of the terminal building where the pilgrims can take rest after arriving from Patna.
“They will be provided with boarding passes. Filling of immigration forms will also be done at the pandal. Around 250 volunteers have been issued identity cards by the district administration and they have been deputed to assist the pilgrims,” he said.
Of them, 20 volunteers have been issued entry passes inside the airport and they will assist the Haj pilgrims by carrying their luggage on trolleys inside the airport. The first batch of pilgrims will enter the airport at around 9am on Monday.
Fifty-five and 94 pilgrims in the first and the second flight respectively, are from Gaya. The others are from various districts, including Patna, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Kishanganj, Katihar, Vaishali, Bhagalpur, Gopalganj, Araria, Muzaffarpur, Jehanabad, Nawada, Bhojpur and Sitamarhi.
Two four-bed health camps — one each inside and outside the airport terminal building — will function for 40 days when the Haj flights operate.
“The camps have been opened with the joint effort of the district administration and doctors,” orthopaedic surgeon Farasat Hussain said.
All facilities, including an intensive care unit and emergency medicines, would be available free of cost.
A team of doctors, including A. Barkat, Z. Ahsan, Mohammad Rahman and S.S. Zaman, would be present at the health camp.
Bodhgaya Municipal Corporation has been given responsibility to maintain sanitation in the area outside the airport. The civic body executive officer Sushil Kumar Mishra said dustbins have been placed at several places.
“Besides, 15 labourers have been deputed to collect the garbage. The district administration has also made available a 42-seater bus for the use of volunteers,” he said.