The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh will be taking some senior citizens in the state on free pilgrimages by air under its existing scheme and the exercise will start from May 21, months before the Assembly polls in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state.
This move is part of the Chouhan government’s flagship ‘Mukhyamantri Teerth Darshan Yojana’, which was launched in June 2012, an official said.
Till now, the beneficiaries of the scheme used to be taken to various places of religious worship by trains. But now, air travel will be added to it.
Opposition Congress, however, said the new move was nothing but a political gimmick of the BJP government ahead of the elections.
Elections to the 230-member Assembly in Madhya Pradesh are scheduled by the end of this year.
“As per the new plan under this scheme, eligible beneficiaries from 25 districts (out of the total 52 in the state) will be taken on pilgrimages to various destinations by aeroplanes between May 21 and July 19,” Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Dr Rajesh Rajora said on Friday.
Beneficiaries will be able to undertake pilgrimages to different destinations allotted to them. These places are Prayagraj, Shirdi, Mathura-Vrindavan and Gangasagar. They will be taken to these religious sites by regular service flights, he said.
A total of 33 seats will be reserved for each district. While 32 of these seats will be beneficiaries, one will be for an escort officer in each flight, Rajora said, adding that the scheme will be implemented with the help of Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC).
A tour manager designated by the IRCTC will also accompany the beneficiaries of the scheme, he said.
Under this flagship scheme of the Chouhan government, the beneficiaries were so far taken on pilgrimages by trains. Now, the option of flights is being included in it, an official said.
With inputs from News18