With just a week to go for the launch of the state government’s prestigious Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra Scheme, the district administration is on its toes to ensure the smooth roll out of the first pilgrims’ train from the Amritsar railway station on January 1.
According to the scheme, only those belonging to the Attari assembly constituency will be allowed to board the train, which will take them to Takht Sri Hazur Sahib at Nanded in Maharashtra. Under this free religious tour scheme, all 117 assembly segments will be covered.
“The response to the scheme from the residents of Attari has been encouraging with people coming forth to get themselves registered for the pilgrimage with the panchayat officers of their area. As our target is 1,000 pilgrims, we will strictly follow the first-come-first-served basis,” deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said here on Friday after holding discussions with local railway officials.
The deputy commissioner, along with SDMs Rajesh Sharma and Rajesh Popli, and his panchayat and rural development officials, met railway station superintendent Kuldip Goswami to discuss all details related to the departure of the train as well as its return journey. The facilities to be provided to the pilgrims on board were also discussed.
“The pilgrims will not be charged a single penny for the pilgrimage. They will be served free food on board,” he added.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will serve ‘langar’ (free food) to the pilgrims after they board the train here. The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) is expected to serve ‘langar’ to pilgrims when they reach the New Delhi railway station.
Replying to a query, the DC said the district panchayat development official would be incharge of preparing the final list of 1,000 pilgrims. The names of the interested persons will be forwarded to him by his junior officials posted at Attari, he added.
“For registering for the pilgrimage, an eligible voter of Attari must submit a written proof, which may include his Aadhar card or voter identity card. Those below the voting age must also submit proof of residence,” he said.
The DC, during his meeting with the district officials, told them to ensure that no one other than from the Attari area boarded the train. He made it clear that lapses would not be tolerated.
Another aspect that the DC laid stress on was on the health and fitness of pilgrims. Each pilgrim will have to submit a health certificate at the time of registration. A medical team will also accompany the pilgrims on the train to take care of emergency cases.
He made it clear that the pilgrims will have to reach the Amritsar station on their own expense. However, leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) from Attari have been instructed by animal husbandry minister Gulzar Singh Ranike to make arrangements for ferrying pilgrims from their respective villages to Amritsar.
The train would be flagged off by deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. The timings for the train’s departure are being worked out by the railways and will be finalised soon. The normal train traffic on the Amritsar-Delhi section will be taken into consideration before finalising the exact departure time.
“We are still working on the train’s departure time as the Amritsar-Delhi section is a busy route. We do not want the train to get held up at some railway station or the other for want of clearance,” a senior railway official said while also referring to the weather conditions and the fog that is the cause of delays of almost all trains on this route.