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Delhi’s pilgrimage scheme set to resume, train for Dwarkadhish to be flagged off

The Delhi government’s pilgrimage scheme for the elderly, which was halted in the first week of January in view of rising Covid-19 cases, will resume on Monday with a train carrying pilgrims to Dwarkadhish in Gujarat.

The train for Dwarkadhish carrying 1000 elderly pilgrims from Delhi will be flagged off from the Safdarjung railway station at 7 PM on Monday. Another train for Rameshwaram will leave on February 18, said Kamal Bansal, chairman of the Delhi government’s Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti.

The Mukhya Mantri Tirth Yatra Yojna was halted in January amid rise in cases of Covid. As a result of the disruption, a train of pilgrims scheduled to Basilica of Our Lady of Health in Tamil Nadu’s Vailankanni on January 7 was cancelled. 

“We are likely to announce trains for other pilgrimage places as the Railway is likely to inform us about the availability of trains,” Bansal said.

He said maximum demand from the senior citizens was for Rameshwaram and Dwarkadhish. Around 15,000 applications for Rameshwaram and 7000 for Dwarkadhish were pending.

“We are ready to arrange as many trips as possible due to popular demand from our elderly but it depends upon the availability of trains,” Bansal said.

Under the scheme for free pilgrimages to the elderly from Delhi, 11 train trips for different pilgrim sites were planned in January that could not materialise due to the third wave of Covid, he said.

The trains of pilgrims including one for Kartarpur Sahib route as well as  Amritsar and Ayodhya in January also got cancelled, he said.

“Now, we will have to again work out schedules for trains as there are already thousands of pending applications due to cancelled trips,” Bansal said.

Under the scheme, people aged 60 years and above are sent on pilgrimage to 15 routes on trips fully sponsored by the Delhi government. The government pays for travel, accommodation and other expenses of each pilgrim who can also take along an attendant with them.

The scheme halted due to the second Covid wave last year was resumed with a train of pilgrims leaving for Ayodhya on December 3, 2020. Pilgrims also went to Rameshwaram and Dwarka before the pandemic applied brake on the scheme. 

Under the scheme, the Delhi government sanctioned 81.45 crore of which 66.92 crore was spent in 2020-21.

Nearly 38,000 senior citizens have benefitted from the scheme so far, officials said. 

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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