Thursday 18 Apr 2024

No money allocated to fund pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens in Budget

Shweta Kamat Mahatme | FEBRUARY 22, 2024, 12:37 AM IST

The BJP-led government’s ambitious scheme offering free pilgrimage - Mukhyamantri Dev Darshan Yatra Yojana - for people above the age of 60 years, which was supposed to make a comeback in January, found no place in the State Budget 2024, which was presented by the Chief Minister earlier this month. It is learned that the CM will reintroduce the scheme - with free pilgrimage to Ayodhya- Ram Lalla visit - from April.

The scheme, which received a huge response from citizens, was launched in November 2022 but was stopped from March 2023, after the budget allocated for the same for the last fiscal year was exhausted. The Department of Social Welfare had proposed to resume the scheme from January this year; however, the proposal was held back by the Chief Minister’s Office, who had plans to include Ayodhya.

According to sources, nearly 12,000 applications from people willing to avail the scheme are pending before the department. The scrutiny of the same is completed; however, in the absence of budget allocation, the sanctions are not granted.

“We actually intended to resume the scheme from January by giving phase-wise sanctions to the pending applications. But then, we were asked to keep the proposal on hold pending the presentation of the State Budget,” sources said, adding that the scheme might be revamped a bit to include Ayodhya and would be launched from the new financial year.

Previously, the scheme offered free pilgrimage to holy places, including Shirdi (Maharashtra), Velankanni (Tamil Nadu), and Tirupati (Andhra Pradesh).

The first train with the pilgrims had left the State on November 7, 2022, while it was on March 2 this year, when the last train was flagged off. Since then, the scheme has been suspended.

According to the information, so far 11,980 people have taken the benefit of the state-sponsored scheme. Under the scheme, introduced as an election promise, the applicant has to submit a declaration on his or her mental and physical fitness and that he or she is not suffering from any serious ailment, communicable or mental disease.

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