Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 23:
The Odisha government will launch a ‘Tirtha Bhraman Yojana’ soon to provide an opportunity to senior citizens to visit places of pilgrimage in the state and the country.
The scheme will cover senior citizens (60 plus) of all religions and castes who cannot afford to go on a pilgrimage on their own, but can be availed only once in a lifetime. Income Tax payers and retired government employees would not be included in this scheme.
A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by chief minister Naveen Patnaik at the State Secretariat here today.
The state government would bear all expenses for the pilgrimage including conveyance, food and lodging and free treatment during the yatra.
The state Tourism department would work as the nodal department for implementation of the new scheme. For proper monitoring of the scheme, a special cell comprising a team of experienced persons would be opened.
The state government would soon sign a MoU with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for smooth running of the scheme.
Interested persons will have to apply through a specific form to be provided by the Tourism department.
For identification of beneficiaries, it was decided to form a state level and a district level committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary and the district collector respectively.
Culture and Tourism minister Ashok Panda, chief secretary GC Pati, Additional Chief Secretary, Finance, R Balakrishnan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Commerce and Transport, Sanjay Rastogi and Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Arabinda Padhee were present at the meeting.