Chhattisgarh offers free religious trips for aged

Last Updated: Sat, Nov 17, 2012 16:30 hrs

Raipur, Nov 17 (IANS) The Chhattisgarh government has signed an agreement with the Indian Railways for free−of−cost pilgrimage schemes for the state's senior citizens, officials said Saturday.

The accord for the Chief Minister Pilgrimage Scheme was signed Friday between officials of the state's social welfare department and Indian Railways at the Mantralaya in Naya Raipur after the cabinet, led by Chief Minister Raman Singh, reviewed the scheme.

The scheme would enable physically fit senior citizens above the age of 60 years to travel once in a group at government expense to one or two of the chosen pilgrimages centres out of 16 identified by the state government outside Chhattisgarh.

Eighty per cent of the total number of senior citizens who would be eligible for the scheme should be beneficiaries of Below Poverty Line (BPL), Antodaya or the Chief Minister's Food Assistance Programme.

The remaining 20 per cent of the beneficiaries of the scheme would be those who are Above Poverty Line but not entitled to pay income tax.

As per the scheme, 75 per cent of the senior citizens would be chosen from rural areas and 25 per cent from urban areas. The expense on each pilgrim is estimated to be Rs.18,000 per year. The total annual expense on the scheme would be Rs.36 crore.

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