Five months and 34 trips later, the pilgrimage scheme of the Delhi government — undertaken by over 30,000 people so far — has been “temporarily suspended”, with the Railways citing non-availability of train rakes to cater to the applicants.
Deputy CM Manish Sisodia released a letter from the IRCTC, dated December 10, wherein the Railways conveyed its inability to make trains available for upcoming proposed trips under the scheme.
Of 63,435 applicants, 32,828 pilgrims could avail the benefits of this scheme within five months, Sisodia said, adding that 30,887 applications are in the pipeline. The Delhi government sponsors the pilgrimages of senior citizens to 12 destinations across the country under the scheme, launched on July 12.
In a statement, Northern Railways attributed the cancellation of the special trains to factors such as foggy weather conditions, ongoing Jharkhand Assembly polls and annual movement of troops of the Border Security Force from the Eastern frontier to Western frontier and vice-versa: “Foggy weather in North India adversely affected train operations… to ensure punctual running of trains, extra rakes are being utilised to run scheduled trains and to move central paramilitary forces to Jharkhand to ensure safe conduct of elections there…”
“The teerth yatras of senior citizens should not be stopped… People whose tickets were confirmed must be really sad now. My message to them is — don’t be disappointed. I will talk to the Centre and get the yatras resumed. It may take some time,” CM Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.