Rajahmundry: In a unique initiative to keep them away from the crowded ghats where Godavari Pushkaralu is now being held, beggars have been asked by the Andhra Pradesh government to take Rs 5,000.
According to The Times of India, the administration has also promised free food on condition that the beggars keep off the Mahakumbh of the south till July 25.
However, the report suggested that a lot of people, who are not beggars, are also queuing up for the money.
Over 1,000 beggars have been seen thronging the Pushkaram ghats since the commencement of the holy river festival on July 14, the daily said.
As per rules of the government initiative, only those beggars, who have neither ration cards nor access to welfare schemes, are eligible for the offer.
The daily has quoted East Godavari collector and Godavari Pushkaram Organising Committee (GPOC) member H Arun Kumar as saying that Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu decided to reimburse beggars to curb any disruption during the festival.
"So far, we've identified 200 beggars within the town, but surprisingly others are approaching us as well. We'll provide reimbursement to genuine beggars after verification at the end of the Pushkaram," said Kumar.
The committee is also checking the fingerprints of beggars to ensure reimbursement claimants are not fake.
"The beggar reimbursement scheme is not new for Naidu. The government had used the same trick to shift beggars from Hyderabad to a rehabilitation centre during President Clinton's visit in 2000," a police officer said.