Trams pave the way towards a sustainable environment

The city recently witnessed the Tilottama Tramjatra spreading awareness on pollution, sustainability, and a safe Durga Puja

Subhadrika Sen Published :  17th October 2023 03:13 PM   |   Published :   |  17th October 2023 03:13 PM

The event focussed on using the iconic trams for a sustainable future

Heritage and future come together as Tramjatra and Calcutta Tram Users Association (CTUA)  in collaboration with Calcutta Heritage Collective (CHC), Mrittika Earthy Talks Foundation, SwitchON Foundation, and West Bengal Council for Climate Action, WICCI  organised Tilottama Tramjatra last Sunday. It spread awareness about a greener future as an extension of the campaign Pratikir Pujo Praaner Pujo. It aimed to highlight sustainable transportation during Durga Puja, especially as the Pujas have a UNESCO Heritage Tag and one which comes with an enormous responsibility to guide and make statements for the betterment of the society.  

Somini Sen Dua, Founder-Director of Mrittika Earthy Talks and State President, of WICCI West Bengal Climate Action Council said, “I am so glad to have so many first-timers on board in our first endeavor to have a group of people concerned and care about Kolkata’s heritage and its future. As a person concerned about the environment, trams have minimal sound pollution. Let us ease our pace, sit back, and enjoy this city of my birth. #PrakritipujoPraanerpujo is complete now.”

The occasion was graced by GM Kapur, head of INTACH Kolkata Chapter; Raja Sen, filmmaker, Mahadeb Shi, documentary filmmaker, Tramjatra Co-founder and Secretary of CTUA; Sangeeta Dudhoria, founder-trustee – CHC, and many others. The journey kicked off from the Gariahat Tram depot and went on to Shyambazar via the Esplanade tram terminus; and made a return journey to Gariahat. People from all walks of life gathered together for this momentous journey, making it more special with the presence of several who had never before ridden a tram.

Along with the journey, the members shared their experiences of tram rides, some reminiscing fond childhood memories. They have been silent observers of the city’s highs and lows and its transformation from Calcutta to Kolkata. Sangeeta Dudhoria comments, “Trams are an indelible part of my childhood memories. Calcutta being one of the few cities in the world to still has trams, I am very happy at the stupendous efforts of Rajanvir Singh Kapur (IAS), Managing Director, West Bengal Transport Corporation, Govt. of West Bengal in reviving and saving this lovely heritage of our beloved city. I am glad to collaborate with Mrittika Earthy Talks, Switch on Foundation, and Tramjatra as the ethos of sustainability and preserving the rich heritage of Calcutta aligns well with our mission of conservation of built heritage.”

GM Kapur mentions, “Kolkata's tramways biggest contribution is to the health of the citizens. Trams help us to breathe easier. If not for any other reason, for this reason alone we must preserve our trams and ensure they keep running and we continue to celebrate Kolkata Tramways. A sustainable transportation system that is cost-effective, accessible, efficient, and resilient is necessary today in order to reduce the environmental impact caused by carbon and other emissions.” He even pointed towards the iconic city spots seen from the tram.

Kolkata is one of the top cities haunted by air pollution due to high to extreme carbon emissions emanating from the transport sector with increased risk of lung-related illness and premature death on the rise. One of the causes of this increased pollution is due to the shutting down of tram routes. Hence, there is all the more need to revive it at this hour. Vinay Jaju, Managing Director, SwitchON Foundation said, “Trams play a pivotal role in urban connectivity and accessibility along with being a sustainable mode of transportation. This will definitely pave the way for this year’s sustainable and eco-friendly Durga Puja celebration.”

At the event Mahadeb Shi, Documentary Film Director, Tramjatra Co-founder and Secretary of CTUA “I have faith that West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC) will start modernising the tram system. We would keep up our campaigns to dispel the false notion that trams are slow and cause congestion. We also need to stop using personal vehicles and move to trams, Electric vehicles, cycling, and walking. The tram and the Durga Puja are two of Kolkata's most recognisable icons. What better way to honor Durga puja than by taking the tram? Today’s Tramjatra is very special since it involves a group of physically challenged youth of Voice of World, who want to celebrate life by riding the tram around the Durga puja. If WBTC could offer frequent tram service during Durga puja that would be fantastic.”