Coming soon: New helpline, website for senior citizens

  • Debasish Panigrahi, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Dec 21, 2014 00:38 IST

Come 2015,, the website for registration of senior citizens in the city, and 1090, the dedicated helpline for them, will become redundant, only to be replaced by a new website and a helpline for senior citizens – 1291.

The existing system has been fraught with glitches, making its existence almost a symbolic one. This was exposed during an audit conducted in June this year, as part of a review ordered by city police commissioner Rakesh Maria. “It was found that of the 38,000 registrations of senior citizens done till January 2014, barely any record was available with the police,” a source in the Mumbai police told HT.

The lapse was traced to the fact that since September 2009, when the registrations began, the police had outsourced the task to a private agency which maintained the records. When the relationship with the agency soured, the latter denied the police access to its server, and deleted most of the data.

Meanwhile, the scope of the helpline 1090, originally meant to cater exclusively to senior citizens, was subsequently expanded to include children and women. “The helpline became a part of the Citizen’s Facilitation Centre (CFC) and senior citizens never got the line free. Barely two of the hundreds of calls received by the CFC every day were from senior citizens,” said a source.

In the backdrop of such complaints, Maria appointed additional commissioner of police Krishna Prakash as the nodal officer for a complete overhaul of the system.

To locate senior citizens, Prakash hit upon a novel idea. “I wrote to the Election Commission to provide us data about senior citizens.”

“The data shows Mumbai has 16 lakh senior citizens, around 13% of the city’s population,” he said. Prakash then approached the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) for a dedicated toll-free helpline. “The MTNL quickly responded and asked us to select a four digit number. We settled for 1291 since a similar number is offered by the Delhi police for senior citizens,” he said.

Prakash also dispatched a letter signed by Maria to the National Informatics Centre (NIC), asking it for domain space on its server for registration of senior citizens. “The NIC is in the process of allotting the required domain space,” Prakash said, adding that forms will first be collected before feeding the data in the domain.

An estimated five lakh senior citizens are likely to be registered in the next six months. “Any police station will be able to access or enter data by clicking on the domain with the password,” he said. The new helpline is tentatively scheduled for launch on January 6, Prakash said.

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