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Posted at: Jul 10, 2018, 12:04 AM; last updated: Jul 10, 2018, 12:04 AM (IST)

Elderly, attendant to get paid religious trips

Elderly, attendant to get paid religious trips
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia with Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Ananya Panda

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 9

The elderly of the capital have reasons to cheer as Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal on Monday sanctioned the “Mukhyamantri Teerth Yojana” which will offer Delhi’s 77,000 senior citizens, irrespective of their income, all-expenses paid religious trips.

Every year, the pilgrimage scheme will enable 1,100 residents of Delhi above 60 years from each Assembly constituency of Delhi to undertake free travel on selected five routes initially.

The beneficiaries selected through “first come first serve” basis will be covered with an insurance of Rs 1 lakh each, Revenue Minister Kailash told reporters here while adding the file has been sent to the Revenue Department and it is likely to be rolled out in a month.

Initially, the scheme will cover five stretches — Delhi-Agra (via Mathura, Vrindavan, Agra–Fatehpur Sikri), Delhi-Neelkanth (via Haridwar, Rishikesh, Neelkanth), Delhi-Ajmer (via Pushkar), Delhi-Amritsar-Wagha Border via Anandpur Sahib and Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu, Gahlot said.

The travel will be of three days and two nights in air-conditioned buses. The government will foot all expenses including hotel boardings. Those selected will be allowed to be accompanied by an attendant above 18 years of age whose expenditure will also be borne by the government. Besides, three volunteers would be manning each bus to assist the pilgrim journeys.

Sharing the details of the eligibility criteria, the minister added, all residents above 60 year can avail the benefit if selected and there is no income criterion, but a voter card and a recommendation from the area’s MLA are mandatory. Applicants can apply online through three channels either the office of the Divisional Commissioner or the offices MLA or the Teerth Yatra committee.

Further, employees of central/ state/ local government or autonomous bodies are not covered by the scheme and the applicants are supposed to submit a self- declaration before the travel.

Gahlot, who was accompanied by Deputy CM Manish Sisodia, said the Delhi Cabinet had approved the revenue department's scheme on January 8, but it failed to see light of the day due to some objections raised by the LG.

The said proposal was approved today after over-ruling all objections, Kejriwal tweeted earlier. The move invited sharp criticism from both Kejriwal and Gahlot, who accused Baijal and the BJP of obstructing the functioning of the government.

The AAP government's free pilgrimage scheme happened to be another issue on which the the government found itself at loggerheads with LG Anil Baijal in the recent past. In March, Baijal had returned the proposal with objections raised on its viability and strain on the government exchequer. The LG had suggested the scheme be restricted to families below the poverty line instead of all senior citizens.

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