Rajasthan offers free pilgrimage to senior citizens

Rajasthan will launch a new scheme under which it will bear all expenses of boarding and lodging for senior citizens going on selected pilgrimages.

Jaipur: The Rajasthan government will launch a new scheme next month under which it will bear all the expenses of boarding and lodging for senior citizens going to selected pilgrimage destinations.

The government`s Devasthan department will implement the scheme, according to an official statement released here Tuesday. The whole journey will last for about a week. The government will spend a sum of Rs 1,700 per person during the journey under the scheme.

"For undertaking the journey senior citizens can apply for the free pilgrimage scheme through the Devasthan department or through the district administration. The government will make all arrangements for their boarding and lodging," a statement said.

"The benefit of this scheme would be given to those senior citizens who don`t have the financial means to undertake religious journey. The expenses for the entire journey would be borne by the government and those undertaking the journey would also be looked after by the authorities," it said.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had announced the scheme in the state budget for financial year 2013-14 presented recently.

The Devasthan department that manages and controls religious and charitable institutions and temples recently signed an agreement with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for help in the smooth implementation of the scheme.

According to the department, every pilgrimage train will carry about 1,000 senior citizens. If the number of applications is more, the pilgrims will be selected through a lottery.

“Arrangements will be made for transporting the pilgrims from the station to the pilgrimage site. There will be one support person in every bogey to help the pilgrims during the train journey,” it said

Eleven pilgrimage sites have been included in the scheme. The special pilgrimage train will start from each divisional headquarter.