EVERY person has a longing to undertake pilgrimage at least once in life, but this desire is not fulfilled owing to financial weakness. In the 56th year of Madhya Pradesh 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.
20 trains left so far under Teerth-Darshan Yojna —As many as 20 trains have left for various pilgrimage destination till November 15 under Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna and about 20 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 , Tirupati from Indore, Rameshwaram from Datia , Shirdi from Sagar and Dwarika Puri from Jabalpur .
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 15 — Under Mukhyamantri Teerth-Darshan Yojna, train leave for 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.
Farmers of village Chhipla in Anuppur construct their own water structure
Water conservation has become crying need in view of increasing paucity of water. For this, both mass awareness and public participation have become imperative. Stop-dams being constructed in Anuppur district are being classified under various categories as per the respective condition. Every stop-dam’s responsibility is being entrusted to government staff after assigning it a unique number. To meet this objective, a campaign is being run with public participation.
Efforts of farmers of village Chhilpa in Anuppur Janpad towards water conservation have proved to be successful in changing their fortunes. The village is dominated by people belonging to Patel farming community. A nullah passing through village Chhilpa flows for some period. But during previous years, less water flowed in the nullah after November. Drawing inspiration from Jan-Abhiyan Parishad, a sandbag stop-dam was constructed on Chhanti Nullah with contributory labour. No assistance was sought from the State Government in this work. The stop-dam yielded good results since the nullah has adequate water this year. Over 10 farmers of the village are getting ample water for their fields. The farmers have decided to sow crops of wheat and gram alongside the nullah. They have also demanded improved seeds from the Agriculture Department. People of nearby villages have visited village Chhilpa to see the nullah bunding and decided to construction effective structures for water conservation in their respective villages.
In the district, villagers are being motivated to construct water structures keeping local requirements and conditions in view.
Food security to over 71 lakh families in Madhya Pradesh
Madhya Pradesh government has made concrete food security arrangements for 71 lakh BPL and extremely poor families in the state. In the state, 55 lakh 69 thousand 638 BPL families are being provided wheat and rice at concessional rates through ration cards. Food grains are being provided at extremely low rates to 15 lakh 81 thousand 565 families under Antyodaya Ann Yojna (AAY) implemented in the state for extremely poor people. Concerned with better health of SC, ST people, the State Government is providing iodised salt to them at Re. one per kg.
Under Mukhyamantri Annapurna Yojna implemented in Madhya Pradesh since year 2008, BPL families are being provided wheat at extremely low rate of Rs. 3 per kg and rice at Rs. 4.50 per kg. Under the scheme, the State Government has ensured that 20 kg wheat-rice are provided per ration card to BPL families.
Under Antyodaya Ann Yojna, extremely poor consumers are being provided wheat at Rs. 2 per kg and rice at Rs. 3 per kg. The State Government has made concrete arrangements to supply 35 kg food grains per ration card under the scheme. Besides, free meals are also being provided to students of primary and middle schools in the state under Mid-day Meal Scheme.
In order to eradicate goiter disease, the State Government is making available iodised salt at Re. one per kg in 89 blocks of 20 scheduled tribe-dominated districts in the state. Its benefit is being provided to 28 lakh 52 thousand 719 APL, BPL and AAY families. To ensure better quality, ISI mark refined iodised salt is being made available in attractive packs from this year. This ultra white salt is pure and conforms to ISI standard. The State Government is making available subsidy worth Rs. 22 crore per annum for this scheme.
Under APL scheme of targeted public distribution system under State Civil Supplies Corporation, food grains are being made available through 189 supply centres in all the districts. Under the scheme, 10 kg food grains are being made available per beneficiary including wheat at the rate of Rs. 9 per kg and rice at Rs. 11 per kg. Following record 85.4 lakh metric tonne procurement of wheat, now APL, BPL and AAY beneficiaries are being provided benefit of the scheme in the state.
Under the State Government’s welfare schemes, arrangements have been made to ensure supply of food grains to institutions of destitute senior citizens, government-aided SC, ST and OBC hostels, madarsas, old age home, Nari Niketans, orphanages and institutions run by voluntary organisations. Under the scheme, food grains at rate of 15 kg per beneficiary are being made available at BPL rates. Nutritious diet is being made available to over one core beneficiaries through Anganwadi centres run by the Women & Child Development Department. Under the programme, self-help groups are provided food grains at BPL rates.
Compilation—Harimohan Modi from Bhopal