Pilgrim train for senior citizens flagged off

Berhampur: Launching a government sponsored pilgrimage programme for senior citizens, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today flagged off a special pilgrim train at the railway station here.

The train carrying around 977 senior citizens of ten southern Odisha districts left for Rameswaram and Madurai in a nine-day tour as part of the “Baristha Nagarika Tirtha Yatra Yojana” sponsored by the government.

While highest number of pilgrims were from Ganjam (645), it was followed by Kalahandi (68), Nuapada (48), Kandhamal (40), Malkanagiri (39), Koraput (23), Gajapati (22), Rayagada (19) and Nabarangapur (4) in the pilgrimage trip launched for the first time in the state, replicating the scheme in some north Indian states.

“We have made all arrangements for their safe journey,” said state’s Tourism Minister Ashok Panda who distributed travel kits to those who boarded the train.

State owned Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) has signed memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the trip, the minister said.

Besides providing free food and lodging, the government is also engaging nodal officers, doctors and nurses to look after the elderly people during their nine-day tour. After visiting Rameswaram and Madurai, they will come back to Berhampur. All the boarders in the train have also got life insurance by the IRCTC, the minister said.