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News Entry# 289297
  
Dec 21 2016 (15:04)  10,000 to benefit from free pilgrimage scheme (m.timesofindia.com)
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News Entry# 289297     
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Dec 21 2016 (4:47PM)
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Posted by: 03652 Gaya Jasidih Shravan Mela Special UnReserve~  89 news posts
UDAIPUR: For the fourth consecutive year, the Devasthan Department is gearing up to take senior citizens to religious places under the free pilgrimage scheme.
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This year, 10,000 elderly persons would benefit from the scheme that was initiated by the Congress government in 2013. The department had received 24,578 applications from across the state and 10,000 persons have been selected for the journey on lottery basis from quota granted to each district as per the ratio of population.
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The first train would leave with 960 pilgrims from Jaipur to Rameshwaram on December 21. The trips to other destinations would completed before March end.
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For the first time, the state government is providing air travel to selected pilgrims aged 70 years and above. "We had invited applications from senior citizens who are of 70 years and above to travel by air. The response was phenomenal with 4,339 opting for the same. Going by the quota of travellers attributed to each district, 1,000 people have been selected for the air journey while the remaining 9,000 people would be taken in trains," Devasthan commissioner Ashok Yadav told TOI.
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The air travellers may have to wait until February for the trip considering the foggy climate in the northern parts of the country. The air journey would incur no extra burden on the government, claims the officer. "We have a budget of Rs 15 crore for the scheme this year and approximately Rs 16,000 is spent per person. This includes the entire cost including to and fro travel, food and lodgings and miscellaneous expenses. The air travel will not attract additional expenditure and will be covered similarly," Yadav said.
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This time two new destinations have been added for the benefit of the pilgrims. Shravanabelagola - a popular Jain pilgrimage centre in Karnataka and Shri Patna Sahib in Bihar have been added to the list of destinations.
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Vaishno Devi, Amritsar, Gaya-Kashi, Sammed Shikhar, Bihar Sharif, Jagganath Puri, Dwarkapuri, Shirdi, Goa, Tirupati and Rameshwaram are among other popular destinations covered under the scheme.
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