Department of Public Relation:Government of Madhya Pradesh
 Special on Foundation Day – November 1, 2012

Every person has a longing to undertake pilgrimage at least once in life, but this desire is not fulfilled owing to some difficulties. The biggest difficulty is financial weakness. In the 56th year of Madhya Pradesh’s foundation, Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan not only felt this difficulty from the core of his heart, but also implemented Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna to help the poor to fulfil their long-cherished desire.

After due to deliberations, Shri Chouhan chalked out this scheme to help senior citizens over 60 years of age to undertake pilgrimage at government cost and implemented it on September 3. The first train under the scheme was flagged off by former Deputy Prime Minister Shri Lal Krishna Advani from Bhopal’s Habibganj railway station for Rameshwaram. Since then, trains under scheme are leaving constantly taking senior citizens to pilgrimages.

15 trains left so far under Teerth-Darshan Yojna

As many as 15 trains have left for various pilgrimage destination till October 31 under Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna and about 15 thousand senior citizens have fulfilled their long-cherished wish. The first train left Bhopal was for Rameshwaram. Other trains which left under the scheme include train to Ajmer Sharif from Bhopal, Vaishno Devi from Rewa, Vaishno Devi from Burhanpur, Jagannath Puri from Burhanpur, Vaishno Devi from Katni, Vaishno Devi from Ujjain, Ajmer Sharif from Burhanpur, Vaishno Devi from Jabalpur, Kashi from Indore, Jagannath Puri from Ratlam, Dwarika Puri from Bhopal, Rameshwaram from Indore, Puri from Sagar and Tirupati from Indore.

The Chief Minister has made it clear that the scheme will continue unabatedly. For this, separate budget has been earmarked in the Religious Endowment Department. He has said that the present State Government has made such provisions that even the next governments will be unable to stop this scheme.

Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna

Under the scheme chalked out by the Religious Trusts and Endowments Department, the State Government will assist senior citizens above 60 years of age to undertake pilgrimage to one of the prescribed pilgrimage centres once in lifetime. The pilgrims will be sent under the package of IRCTC (Railways).

Eligibility

Pilgrim must be over 60 years of age and a domicile of Madhya Pradesh. He must not be a taxpayer and should not have taken benefit of Teerth-Darshan Yojna earlier. Pilgrim should be physically and mentally sound to undertake journey and should not be suffering from any communicable disease like TB, difficulty in breathing, heart disease, leprosy etc. Applicant providing false information and hiding facts can be deprived of benefit under the scheme anytime.

Application process

A senior citizen desirous to avail benefit of Teerth-Darshan Yojna should fill up application in prescribed proforma in two copies and submit the same at nearest tahsil or sub-tahsil before the prescribed time-limit. Photo and address proof should be affixed to application. Ration card, driving licence, electricity bill, voters’ identity card or any other evidence recognised by the State Government will be accepted as address proof.

Under the scheme, an attendant can also accompany pilgrim above 65 years of age. If one of the spouses is selected, his or her life partner can also go on pilgrimage. The life partner can undertake pilgrimage even if he or she is less than 60 years of age. Application of life partner will have to be submitted simultaneously. Similarly, attendants’ application should also be submitted simultaneously.

If senior citizens submit application in group, then entire group will be regarded as one application and selected in lottery. One group can consist of maximum 25 applicants including attendants.

Selection process

Selection of pilgrims will be made by collector. First, applications will be sorted place-wise. Selection will be made through lottery if applications outnumber quota. A waiting list of 10 percent quota will also be chalked out.

If pilgrims desire to avail any other facility than prescribed by the government during journey, then they will have to make payment for the same. Carrying any inflammable or intoxicating material or jewellery will not be allowed. The State Government will not be responsible for any accident during the journey.

17 pilgrimage centres under scheme

At present, the State Government has selected Shri Badrinath, Shri Kedarnath, Shri Jagannath Puri, Shri Dwarika Ji, Haridwar, Amarnath, Vaishno Devi, Shridi, Tirupati, Ajmer Sharif, Kashi, Amritsar, Rameshwaram, Sammed Shikhar, Shravan Belgola and Velankani Church, Nagapattinam as pilgrimages under the scheme.

State and district-level Managing Committees for pilgrimage

State-level Teerth-Darshan Managing Committee has been constituted to ensure effective arrangements for pilgrimage journey of senior citizens. Similarly, Managing Committees have also been constituted in districts.

State-level Managing Committee

Chairman of the State-level Managing Committee is the Religious Trusts and Endowment Minister. Its members include Minorities Welfare Minister, Tourism Minister and Principal Secretaries of Finance, Public Health & Family Welfare and Tourism. Principal Secretary Religious Trusts & Endowments is its Member-Secretary.

District-level Managing Committee

Chairman of the District-level Managing Committee will be minister in-charge of district. Collector will be its secretary while members will include superintendent of police, chief executive officer of Zila Panchayat, a deputy collector nominated by in-charge officer of Waiver Section of collectorate or collector, chief medical and health officer and District Protocol Officer. In the absence of in-charge minister, Collector will preside over meetings. Besides arranging pilgrimage journey of senior citizens, these committees will also redress pilgrims’ problems during journey.

Trains to leave after November 1

Under Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna, train leave for Rameshwaram from Datia on November 3, Shirdi from Sagar on November 4, Dwarika Puri from Jabalpur on November 9, Tirupati from Rewa on November 24, Tirupati from Sagar on December 3, Shirdi from Rewa on December 13, Gadarwara from Jabalpur on December 21 and Shirdi from Bhopal on December 31. Each train will carry about 980 pilgrims from concerning districts.

Pilgrims’ reactions

Chironji Bai from Obaidullahganj in Sehore district said that we have Darshan of Bhagwan due to Chief Minister. We had never thought of it. The State Government is serving us like Shravan Kumar. We are short of words in expressing gratitude. This was said by 67 years old Ratiram Mehra of Raisen and his 60 years old wife Bhagwati Bai. She said that Shivraj Singh has created history by chalking out this scheme. Dulilal, a resident of Khilchipur in Rajgarh district said that the Chief Minister has fulfilled our long-cherished wish for pilgrimage. Tulsi Bai, a 70 years old resident of Bhopal said that the Chief Minister has surpassed sons in serving senior citizens. Sudha Khare of Bhopal said that the Chief Minister has concern for all including daughters, women, students etc. and now he has chalked out such a marvelous scheme for senior citizens. We will remember him till our last breath. Our entire family is giving blessings to him.

Senior citizens who complete pilgrimage journey of Ajmer Sharif under the scheme said that the precedent of principle of respect to all religions set by the Chief Minister through this scheme will always be remembered in the history of the state and country. Haji Mian of Raisen Dargah Sharif said that Madhya Pradesh is the first state of the country where so much care is being accorded to senior citizens. Shri Himayat Beg of Kothi Bazar Betul said that his long-cherished desire has been fulfilled. Shri Arif Taranwi of Tarana in Ujjain district lauded Teerth-Darshan Yojna. He said that Chief Minister has emerged as a popular leader in every section of society. Shri Azizuddin of Shujalpur described journey to Ajmer Sharif as his good fortune courtesy to the State Government.

Baldev of village Makadkachh in Khandwa district informed that he could not undertake pilgrimage journey earlier due to family’s responsibilities. But now the Chief Minister has fulfilled my long-cherished desire of visiting Vaishno Devi through this scheme.

Thus, a cross section of society has lauded Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna describing it as a novel precedent of respect to all religions. Besides, the scheme has also fulfilled senior citizens’ long cherished desire of going on pilgrimage. Now, every senior citizen of the state will be able to undertake journey to some pilgrimage centre.

Rajesh Pandey 

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