Good news for the elderly. An NGO has started a free-taxi service -- Bujurgo Ke Humsafar -- to ferry senior citizens to hospitals and other destinations.
All one has to do is call on the 24-hour help line number, possibly a day in advance. With just four cars at their disposal, the NGO -- The Path-- is always pressed for meeting the demand. While the elderly call for any and every reason, priority is always for hospital visits.
Says The Path founder Anjali Gupta: "Priority is hospitals. But next is dropping people to railway stations and if cars are available, then for any other thing."
"I was skeptical if it was really free. I debated with my son if they would charge us in some way," recalls Mahendra Narayan Pathak, a 75-year-old resident of Adarsh Nagar, who had availed the free taxi service for his weekly visit to the hospital at Punjabi Bagh last month.
Pathak is not the only one who was skeptical about this free taxi service.
"Will you ask for money after we reach our destination? Will you ask us to become a member? Will you bring out a donation box at the end of the trip?… Half my energy goes into explaining people that this service is free," says Gupta.
The free taxi service is a project of The Path started in August 2008. Earlier, the group had started a free ambulance service, which too received a huge response. "I had always observed that the movement of elderly people is severely restricted without any vehicle. There was always a demand for such a service," she adds.
Parveen Kaur Bajaj, a resident of South Extension vouches for it. "I used this to come back home from a Gurudwara in Karol Bagh. Saare bujurgo ke aashirvad milenge inko (They will receive blessings of all seniors)."
The Ozone group of companies has given three cars and funding the service as well. Five other companies - Anantraj Industries, Emmsons, Dhampure Sugars, L&T Foods and Oriental Insurance Co - and Vodafone chairman Asim Ghosh in his personal capacity, are also helping out.
"This is necessarily a planned service. We don't entertain emergencies. Ambulance service is for that," Gupta adds.