Ayodhya has been included in the Delhi government’s free pilgrimage scheme for senior citizens, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on Wednesday after the Delhi Cabinet approved the proposal.He said the scheme, currently on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will reopen within a month.
Kejriwal said in an online press meet that the scheme’s registration window for senior citizens who are Delhi residents will reopen shortly.
“I have immense pleasure in informing you all that the Delhi Cabinet has approved the proposal to include Ayodhya in the government’s free pilgrimage scheme. So far, as many as 35,000 citizens from Delhi have used our scheme to go on pilgrimages,” he said.
“Under the Delhi government’s scheme, the Capital’s senior citizens are entitled to a free pilgrimage to multiple locations. Senior citizens are also allowed to take an attendant along with them on such trips for free,” Kejriwal said.
The Delhi government bears all expenses of the pilgrimages under the scheme that will now include Ayodhya – including travel, food and accommodation. Facilities such as paramedical staff and attendants are also provided during the journey.
The Cabinet’s approval comes a day after Kejriwal, who is also the national convener of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), returned from Ayodhya, a city in Uttar Pradesh, where he offered prayers at Shri Ram Janmabhoomi.
During the Ayodhya visit, he said that if his party forms government in Uttar Pradesh, residents of the state will also get a free pilgrimage to Ayodhya.
The AAP has decided to contest the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh slated to be held early next year.
Under the Mukhya Mantri Teerth Yatra Yojna, pilgrims get to visit Vaishno Devi, Shirdi, Rameswaram, Dwarka, Puri, Haridwar, Rishikesh, Mathura, Vrindavan, among many other shrines.
The scheme was launched by the Kejriwal government in 2019, which allows people aged 60 and above and their attendants to take up a free pilgrimage every year. The scheme was launched with five pilgrimage sites and later seven more were added to the list of destinations.
Senior citizens availing free pilgrimage are issued certificates by the MLAs of their respective areas. The ministers of the Delhi government and the chairman of the Tirth Yatra Vikas Samiti also issue certificates to applicants.