Durga Puja and cultural activities have been synonymous in Salt Lake City for a long time now. And it was on Saptami this Durga Puja that DB Block Residents’ Association did something different. As a token of respect — as also to connect with them in Bengal’s biggest festival — the younger residents gifted a sapling, an uttaria and a box of sweets each to senior citizens of the block aged over 85 years. Usually, such initiatives in inclusion of the elderly are quite rare.
Since its initial days, Salt Lake City, or Bidhannagar, has had a significant population of senior citizens who live alone. And, to reach out to these people — for not only their safety and security, but also to take care of their health and happiness — the Bidhannagar City Police, along with OFFER, a non-profit organisation, came up with Saanjhbaati, a community policing project for elderly persons living alone in this satellite township.
The programme covers all elderly people living without children or other younger members of their families under the jurisdiction of the Bidhannagar Police Commissionerate. This unique initiative was started in 2010 and OFFER became its NGO partner since April 14, 2012. Starting with a handful of senior citizens, Saanjhbaati now has as many as 1,700 members.
Do we really sit back and think how our society would be without the wisdom and the guidance of the elderly? Do we ever worry about our elderly neighbours who live alone and terribly miss their children living far away from them? Do we try to reach out to the elderly on the road and offer to help them cross it?
Ageing is a natural process that happens and will happen to all of us. But, as people grow old, they lose their freedom to move around because of various kinds of physical wear and tear. But does that mean they should lose contact with their family and peers and end up in solitude and depression?
The elderly population should also be able to live life with dignity and be a part of the mainstream society.
The Bidhannagar City Police started the community policing programme, Saanjhbaati, in 2010. OFFER, an NGO, got involved in this project on April 14, 2012. The programme has touched the lives of over 1,500 elderly people through its services that aim to provide them with a better quality of life.
The programme recognises that the elderly all over the world have the right to such basic social facilities as pension, social security, health care, safety and security, transportation and mobility. They deserve to live with dignity and enjoy the fruits of their lifelong toil.
- Ensure that the elderly enjoy their lives to the fullest
- Create a safe environment where they can express themselves
- Involve the elderly in community work and use their skills and experiences for the larger benefit
- Creation of a platform where the elderly can express their concerns and get support
- Design and link resources easily accessible to the elderly
- Develop programmes that can keep the elderly engaged in society
The modus operandi
The Saanjhbaati programme has been taken up to try and reach out to the elderly by:
- Designating a nodal officer at every police station
- Providing them with efficiently delivered emergency health services
- Arranging regular telecounselling for members by certified psychologists
- Providing emotional support to the elderly by helping them come out of loneliness and spend quality time with their peers
- Spreading awareness among the elderly and making them understand their rights, so that they get their dues and are able to play an active role in society
- Making society aware of the concerns of the aged and promote better understanding
- A 24×7 helpline, 9748898933, has also been launched where the elderly can call and ask for support, or speak about their grievances
Member Profile (by police station)
|Police station||Member numbers|
|1||Salt Lake (North)||554|
|2||Salt Lake (East)||548|
|3||Salt Lake (South)||306|
|4||Salt Lake (Electronic Complex)||9|
Special activities held in 2018
- Basanta Utsav was organized at the CE Block Park on February 28, 2018, to celebrate Holi with the Saanjhbaati Approximately 350 participants came to celebrate Holi. A cultural programme hosted by the Nodal Officer of the Bidhannagar North PS was organized on this occasion, where other senior officers were also present.
- A seminar on Maintenance & Welfare of Senior Citizen’s Act, 2007, was conducted at the Suresh Neotia Auditorium, Salt Lake City, on March 27, 2018, in collaboration with HelpAge India. The seminar was attended by 300 members of Saanjhbaati and senior-ranking officers of the Bidhannagar City Police.
- Rakhi Bandhan Utsav was conducted at all the police stations under the Bidhannagar City Police on August 25, 2018. In addition, a few members under the jurisdiction of the North Police Station tied rakhis to the Commissioner of Police and all the Deputy Commissioners of Police of the Bidhannagar City Police.
- International Day of Elderly Persons was observed on October 1, 2018, at the Biswa Bangla Convention Centre. The Commissioner of Police, Bidhannagar City Police, and other senior officers of the police department were present. Members from all the police stations were present for the occasion where renowned actor Madhabi Debi was the chief guest.
- Puja Parikrama was organized during Durga Puja for the Saanjhbaati Three luxury buses were arranged for the members for trips to all the prominent Durga Pujas in Salt Lake City.
- 100 members were invited to the premiere of the movie, Sonar Pahar, at the Salt Lake City Centre’s Inox theatre. The film was based on the lives of some senior citizens. Parambrata Chatterjee, the actor-director of the movie, interacted with the Saanjhbaati
- Calling Saanjhbaati members on their birthdays and wishing them
- Monthly meetings at every police station under the Bidhannagar City Police
- Home visits to Saanjhbaati members
- Assistance in visits to doctors’ chambers, diagnostic centres and hospitals
- Ambulance referrals during medical emergencies
- 24×7 helpline service
- Telecounselling for mental health support
- To integrate more elderly people with no one to take care of them with Saanjhbaati
- To provide them proper health and psychological support
- To connect with mainstream society and involve them in relevant activities of society
Who can become a Saanjbaati member?
- Any citizen of India above 60 years of age residing under the jurisdiction of the Bidhannagar City Police
- The applicant should not have any young relative/s living with them
- Collect membership form available at local police station
- Submit completed form to the local police station along with:
- Document/s for proof of residence (voter’s ID card/Aadhaar card) — photocopies only
- 2 copies of passport-size photographs
- For queries, please contact Saanjhbaati control room at 9748898933