The State government would provide subsidy to 500 Christians annually for undertaking pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

The district administration has invited applications from Christians seeking to avail the subsidy.

The State government has formed a Jerusalem Holy Pilgrimage Committee to implement the scheme. The pilgrimage would include Bethlehem, Nazareth, River Jordan, Sea of Galilee, and other sacred places.

The pilgrimage is conducted between February 2013 and May 2013, and the travel period would be for seven to ten days.

Applications may be obtained free of cost from the office of the District Backward Classes and Minorities Welfare Officer at the Collectorate or downloaded from www.tn.gov.in/bmcbcm/welfschemes_minorities.html

Christian individuals or families with Tamil Nadu as their domicile with a minimum of one year validity on passport as of January 1, 2013 and free of encumbrances to overseas travel are eligible to apply.

They should have medical and fitness certificate to make the overseas travel and should agree to pay the rest of the travel cost over and above the government subsidy.

Four persons, including two children above the age of two, from a family are eligible to take up the pilgrimage. Preference would be given to candidates over 70 years of age.

A person of the senior citizen’s choice would be allowed to accompany such an applicant.

Beneficiaries would be selected based on the Christian population of the concerned district, through lot system under a screening committee. Selected persons would be allowed to make the journey only through government authorised travel agents.

The pilgrimage committee would decide on the period of travel, and selected candidates would be duly communicated.

Further details may be ascertained from the district welfare office for backward classes and minorities.

According to an administration release, duly filled applications should be sent to Director, Tamil Nadu Minorities Economic Development Corporation, 807, V Floor, Anna Salai, Chennai – 600 002 before December 5.