Andhra CM announces Rs 75,000 to Jerusalem pilgrims

Andhra CM announces Rs 75,000 to Jerusalem pilgrims

N Chandrababu Naidu

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu announced financial assistance of Rs 75,000 each to pilgrims of Jerusalem.

The chief minister offered prayers at Saint Paul's Basilica church in Vijayawada on the eve of Christmas. He also sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore for the completion of CSI St Basilica church.

Extending greetings to the Christian community after cutting a cake, Naidu said majority of people in the world celebrate Christmas. He said the Christian community is known for its temperament of service to the society.

A similar scheme for Christian pilgrims was launched by the former chief minister of the combined state, YS Rajasekhar Reddy in 2009.

At that time, it was envisaged that the state government will provide financial assistance of Rs 20,000 per pilgrim to visit the holy land of Israel in a group of 50-100. After two trips in 2009 and 2010, the pilgrimage had to be stopped abruptly as courts ordered a stay.

The Israel government gives a one-week visa to cover places connected with the life of Jesus Christ, which include, Bethlehem (birthplace of Jesus), Jerusalem (crucifixion, death and resurrection), Nazareth (place of bringing up), Jordan River (place of baptism), the Dead Sea and Sea of Galilee (places of preaching).

However, a screening committee selects beneficiaries with particular preference to lower income groups.