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PM urges people to visit local pilgrimage sites

Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay yesterday maintained that Bhutanese people must be encouraged to visit the sacred pilgrimage sites that are available in the country than visiting other nations for pilgrimage.

“If we think properly there is no need of Bhutanese to visit other nations when we have a number of sacred places for pilgrims and we need to encourage our people to visit those,” Lyonchhen added.

The Prime Minister was responding to Member of Parliament from Bomdeling-Jamkhar constituency in Trashiyangtse, Dupthob, who questioned how many pilgrims were sent on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya by the present government as it had promised to send old-aged people (above the age of 65) during the time of campaign in 2013 elections.

Lyonchhen responded that the government should actually think properly about sending old aged people on pilgrimage to Bodhgaya. “For me I think it would be better if the individual Member of Parliament can take responsibility to send pilgrims, but if MPs refuse to do so the government is ready to send them.”

Furthermore, Lyonchhen asked not to complain when the government sends old-aged people on pilgrimage as when the government had started the central schools last year, many complained that the government was pampering students.

“Last year, I have sent almost 20 people on pilgrimage and this time I am planning to send around 25 of them, which will be a blessing for me as well as it is an opportunity to earn merits,” Lyonchhen said.

“As we have already discussed in the Parliament session, my greatest concern is that due to our country’s economic growth yearly most of the Bhutanese go on pilgrimage to countries like Nepal and India. My reason for the concern is firstly we have plenty of sacred places for pilgrims and moreover when our people visit other nations there is a flow of currency to other nations and the revenue of our country is drained out, which indirectly hampers our economy,” Lyonchhen reasoned. The Prime Minister also said that there are high risks when pilgrims go in a large number to other nations.

“Recently I have contacted 18 agents in Phuentsholing and came to know that the agents have helped to send 3,367 pilgrims last year. Last year, our people went to Nepal and India and faced difficulties and obstacles, but the government was successful in solving those issues,” Lyonchhen added.

“We need to think of our country’s sacred places and most importantly we have to look at the risk and the country’s economy when pilgrims go in large number.”

Jigme Wangchen from Thimphu