1000 senior citizens go on pilgrimage under govt scheme

Berhampur: As many as 1000 senior citizens left for Tirupati of Andhra Pradesh and Vellore of Tamil Nadu on a pilgrimage trip from Berhampur on Thursday under government’s Baristha Nagarika Tirtha Yatra Yojana.

The pilgrims boarded a special train arranged by the State government after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik flagged off the second phase of the scheme via video conference at State Secretariat.  The train having 10 compartments departed from the station at 12.20 pm on Thursday with the pilgrims from across 10 districts of southern Odisha.

The train was decorated with flowers and balloons. All the senior citizens were greeted with flower garlands and food packets at the station.

“All are elated as their long-pending wish to go on a pilgrimage became a reality. They will visit to Tirupati and Vellore and return on January 9,” Tourism Minister Ashok Panda said.

“As many as 4,000 senior citizens from Ganjam and 6,000 others from other districts of southern Odisha are visiting today. It is a four-day tour. All arrangements have been made for them,” Ganjam Collector Prem Chandra Chaudhary said.

Under the scheme, the benefit can be available for pilgrims within the age group of 60-75 years. While the pilgrims from below poverty line (BPL) categories can avail 100 per cent concessions, non-BPL senior citizens in the age group of 60-70 years can avail 50 per cent concessions while those above 70 and up to 75 years can get 70 per cent concessions, sources said.