Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Monday approved a scheme under which 1,100 senior citizens from each of the 70 Delhi Assembly constituencies can undertake free pilgrimage, overruling all objections by Lt Governor Anil Baijal.
Under the 'Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra Yojana', any resident of Delhi above the age of 60 will be eligible to undertake pilgrimage, accompanied by an attendant above the age of 18, whose expenditure will also be borne by the government.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia and Revenue Minister Kailash Gahlot, while announcing the scheme to the media here, said the Chief Minister took the decision in exercise of powers given to the Delhi government by the Supreme Court ruling on July 4.
"Those desirous of undertaking the pilgrimage ought to have a voter ID card and a recommendation from area MLA. There is no income criterion, but preference will be given to those from economically weaker sections on first-come-first-serve basis," Gahlot said.
The applications will be received online and selection of pilgrims will be done through a draw. Respective area MLAs will certify that intended beneficiary belongs to Delhi. Pilgrims will get an insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh each.
The pilgrimage for three days and two nights can be undertaken on following circuits: Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi; Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi; Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi; Delhi-Amritsar-Wagah border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi; or Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.
Every year, as many as 77,000 senior citizens can avail of this facility. Employees of central, state, local government or autonomous bodies are not eligible.
The Delhi cabinet in January approved the Revenue Department's proposal to launch the scheme, but objections by the Lt Governor's office put a spanner.