With the Assembly elections only a year away, the SAD-BJP government will launch its ambitious Mukh Mantri Tirath Darshan Yatra scheme from here on Friday.
The first train will chug out of the local railway station carrying 1,050 pilgrims on a pilgrimage to Nanded in Maharashtra, where Takht Hazur Sahib is located. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal will flag off the train.
The pilgrims will not be charged anything for the journey besides the boarding and lodging in Nanded. As the scheme is being implemented constituency wise, those on board the inaugural train are residents of the Attari assembly constituency.
“It’s a free-of-cost journey. The scheme involves boarding and lodging facilities, food during the journey, and transportation before and after the tour,” deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said here on Thursday while reviewing the arrangements with railway officials.
The deputy commissioner inspected the coaches that reached Amritsar around 4 pm. The special trains have been provided by the railways as part of an agreement with the state. The entire cost of the journey is being borne by the state government. On board the train, there will be the facility of non-stop recitation of Gurbani and kirtan. Officers and other employees from various departments, including tourism and transport, will travel with the devotees and will look into the difficulties faced by them.
The government has also provided an insurance cover to all pilgrims after getting their fitness certificates.
The pilgrims will have free transportation as well as accommodation at Nanded, where a team of senior officers of the Punjab government has already reached to extend a warm welcome to the pilgrims. Each coach will have a dedicated nodal officer besides security staff and officials of Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation.
Comprising 18 coaches, the special train will carry the devotees and officials in 15.
The remaining coaches will comprise the pantry car, the guard’s coach and a miscellaneous coach with doctors and paramedical staff on board. The train will leave from Amritsar at 11 am and reach Nanded on Saturday evening.
On its return journey, it will reach Amritsar on January 6 evening. All coaches are second-class three-tier sleeper.
Social welfare minister and Attari MLA Gulzar Singh Ranike and family will accompany the devotees.
Elaborate security arrangements have been made at the station, particularly on Platform No 1, from where the train will start.
Lauding the initiative, Ranike said the scheme would provide an opportunity to people to have a glimpse of various religious places.
A help desk has been set up at the local railway station for the facilitation of devotees.
Attari: January 1
Maur: January 4
Anandpur Sahib: January 8
Tarn Taran: January 11
Patiala: January 15
Batala: January 18
Muktsar: January 22
Beas: January 25
Jalandhar: January 20
Ludhiana: January 27
For Ajmer Sharif
Malerkotla to Ajmer: Jan 29