The Delhi government would send 77,000 senior citizens along with one adult attendant each on all-expenses paid pilgrimages every year, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal approving the scheme on Monday.
Mr. Kejriwal approved the Mukhyamantri Tirth yatra Yojana, a scheme the Cabinet had approved on January 8, said Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot.
He added that the scheme could not be implemented so far because the Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal had raised some objections.
The L-G had asked the Aam Aadmi Party government to consider an income criteria for the applicants of the scheme.
But, with the Supreme Court ruling last week that the L-G’s concurrence was not required for decisions on all but three subjects — land, police and public order — the Chief Minister “rejected” the objections and approved the scheme, the government statement read.
For each of Delhi’s 70 Assembly constituencies, 1,100 residents who are 60 years or older would be eligible to apply for the fully-funded pilgrimage once in their life, the statement further read.
The government would also pay for one attendant over the age of 18 years to accompany each senior citizen. Applicants cannot be employees of any Central, State or local government or autonomous bodies.
The applicants would have to certify that the information given by them is correct and that they have not availed of the scheme before.
Apart from travel in air-conditioned buses through the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation, the government would pay for the stay, food and insurance cover of Rs. 1 lakh each, the statement said. The application form could be filled online or through the office of the Divisional Commissioner, the office of the area MLA and the Tirth Yatra Committee.
The pilgrims would be selected through a draw of lots and the area MLA would have to certify that they are residents.
To begin with, there would be five routes — Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi, Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi, Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi, Delhi-Amritsar-Wagah Border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi and Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.