The Gujarat government Friday increased the bus fare amount it pays and the total number of days for the Shravan Tirth Darshan Yojana under which it provides financial assistance for pilgrimage to senior citizens. The changes came on the back of a number of modifications the state government announced to the existing criteria of the scheme.
Earlier, the senior citizens could travel for two nights and three days under the scheme; but now, the travel duration has been extended to three nights and three days. The announcement was made by tourism minister Purnesh Modi.
With the modified criteria, more senior citizens will be able to take advantage of the scheme, an official release stated.
As per the release, earlier, the senior citizens were eligible to get 50 per cent of the fare of the Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC)’s super bus (non-AC), mini bus (non-AC) or private bus, whichever is less. This has been modified to 75 per cent of amount of the fare of GSRTC’s super bus (non-AC), mini bus (non-AC), AC coach, sleeper coach or private bus—whichever is less.
Under the scheme, senior citizens get the benefit to tour within the stipulated period. Earlier, this period was of two nights and three days (60 hours). But now, this period has been extended to three days and three nights (72 hours). Additionally, if a senior citizen of 75 years or above is travelling alone, then he/she was allowed to have an attendant (below the age of 60) to accompany him/her. This criteria has been modified as per which a senior citizen above the age of 70 years can have an attendant above 18 years accompany him/her.
Before the current modifications, it was required to mention in the application if when the tour was being planned. They were required to travel within the stipulated time mentioned in the application or within two months of the application getting a sanction; failure to do so, used to result in the sanction deemed to be cancelled. With the new rules, an application is required to be filed only a week before the proposed tour. The tour has to be conducted within the stipulated time or within two months of getting sanction for the tour.
Quoting Modi, the release stated that the benefits under the scheme were available only on an application of minimum 30 senior citizens. This mandatory upper limit of senior citizens in a tour has been reduced to 27. Moreover, in addition to the bus fare for the tour, it has been decided that the senior citizens will also get a fixed amount per person for various expenses like food and accommodation. This amount will be announced soon.
One of the modifications to the scheme has made it compulsory for the senior citizens to produce their Aadhaar Card to avail financial benefits under it.
Modi has announced to recruit one project assistant each for Gujarat Pavitra Yatradham Vikas Board (GPYVB) at 16 divisional offices of GSRTC in the state. These project assistants will accept and process the applications under the scheme and send to GPYVB. A group leader/coordinator/talati/sarpanch or project assistant will get Rs 500 promotional amount for each bus sanctioned under the scheme.