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Housing complex for elderly gets its first occupant, to be launched on June 25

Housing complex for elderly gets its first occupant, to be launched on June 25

Kolkata: Snehodiya, the air-conditioned living space for senior citizens at New Town, got its first occupant with the elderly Ghosh couple checking in on Saturday. Although the formal launch will be made by state Urban Development minister Firhad Hakim on June 25, the Ghosh couple was handed over the keys as a pre- launch procedure.

The couple had sold off their home so they were allowed to let in. Their young nephew, who was present when the couple was handed over the keys, helped them unpack.

Snehodiya, a project of West Bengal Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (Hidco) is a first-of-its-kind venture by any state government agency.

Mackintosh Burn has constructed the building located just opposite Swapno Bhor, the senior citizens' park. In fact, the idea of the senior citizens' living space was born out from the success and popularity of Swapna Bhor as well as from the ambition to be an inclusive city that created housing for economically weaker section and now for the senior citizens.

"In both, there is the attempt only to recover the costs of construction and services from those who use it and there is no profit angle," a senior official of Hidco said.

Snehodiya re-interprets the nostalgia of the residents in a modern high-rise design, while retaining its fundamental Bengali essence of rooms built around a courtyard. Each suite is air-conditioned, properly furnished and has a TV set.

There is an attendant on each floor and nurses are present on the ground floor medical unit to take care of elderly persons. Professional housekeeping, including laundry machine services, are available on the ground floor.

A guest house with six rooms is ready as well. Snehodiya has 57 double bedrooms and 90 single bedrooms. It has been decided that 75 percent of the price paid on entry will be refunded to the occupants or their heirs in case of vacancy. The ambience is very thoughtfully created by principal architect Debmalya Guha of Pace Consultants with movie posters from the sixties to eighties framed on all floors. More than three hundred old movie posters selected carefully have been framed in printed aluminum sheets.

The interiors evoke a sense of both nostalgia and intimacy with blown-up posters of yesteryear films and filmstars adorning the walls — familiar faces in a growingly unfamiliar world that the soon-to-be residents would have grown up watching. Most remarkably, there is an activity centre designed to offer space for teaching by residents who opt to do so for children from the economically weaker section families. A stationery general purpose shop near the gate of Snehodiya was opened on Saturday. An SBI ATM and a medicine shop will be opened shortly. Swapna Bhor now has more than 700 members and there is a freeze on new members (except those from Snehodiya, whose residents have been given opportunity to be members automatically) because the community building rooms are not large enough to accommodate more members.

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