SAMBALPUR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik flagged off the special pilgrimage train for senior citizens under Baristha Nagarika Tirtha Yatra Yojana at Sambalpur Railway Station through video conferencing on Monday. Under the pilgrimage plan, the train will take the senior citizens to Shirdi, Nasik and Trimbakeshwar during the seven-day tour. As many as 961 senior citizens from 10 districts boarded the special train. The pilgrims consisted of 146 senior citizens from Keonjhar, 110 from Balangir, 66 from Bargarh, 91 each from Angul and Dhenkanal, 229 from Sambalpur, 33 from Subarnapur, 42 from Jharsuguda, 23 from Deogarh and 130 from Sundergarh district.
District Tourist Officer of Sambalpur Rabindra Dalei said people in the age group of 60-75 years are eligible to avail the benefit of the plan. Senior citizens from below poverty line (BPL) categories are given 100 per cent concessions under the scheme. The Odisha Government has signed an MoU with the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) for the pilgrimage plan. The IRCTC will provide all the requisite facilities to pilgrims in the train, he said.
Dalei further informed that 37 escort officers are accompanying the senior citizens who will help the pilgrims for a hassle-free journey. Heaping praises on the State Government, 67-year-old Bijay Hati from Jharbandh in Bargarh district said senior citizens are being able to visit various pilgrimage sites due to this noble initiative.
This is for the second time that the pilgrimage train under the Yojana has been flagged off at Sambalpur Railway Station. In November 2016, 986 senior citizens from across the region had visited places like Haridwar and Rishikesh as part of the pilgrimage plan.Labour and Energy Minister Susant Singh, Sambalpur MLA Raseswari Panigrahi and district Collector Samarth Verma were present on the occasion.