The future of Kolkata’s iconic tram system teeters on the edge, with the Calcutta High Court and an expert committee, recently established, holding the key. As the Calcutta Tram Users’ Association, an integral part of the committee, gears up for a protest in College Street, their demand is simple yet significant—more trams on the three remaining operational routes.
A Glorious Past, A Diminished Present
Tram Kolkata’s Iconic In a stark contrast to its glorious past when over 400 trams gracefully traversed the city, Kolkata now boasts a mere 10 trams. The potential for trams to regain their status as a popular and convenient mode of transport remains untapped, primarily due to regulatory constraints. Debasish Bhattacharyya, President of Calcutta Tram Users’ Association and a member of the expert committee, articulates the issue, “Trams, if permitted to operate freely, can undoubtedly regain their popularity. However, current circumstances hinder their resurgence.”
The Remaining Tram Routes
Tram Kolkata’s Iconic Currently, Kolkata stands as the only Indian city where trams continue to ply. These vintage vehicles operate on just three routes:
- Tollygunge to Ballygunge (and reverse)
- Gariahat to Esplanade (and reverse)
- Esplanade to Shyambazar (and reverse)
The High Court’s Intervention
The turning point in the tram’s uncertain fate arrived in June of this year when a lawyer petitioned the Calcutta High Court to safeguard this unique mode of transportation. Responding to the call for preservation, the court constituted an expert committee tasked with formulating recommendations for restoring and maintaining trams as an eco-friendly means of commuting.
The court’s statement emphasized, “This court takes judicial notice of the fact that several heritage structures in the State are being preserved by the State, either fully funded by the State or partly funded by the Centre. Therefore, we are of the clear view that the tram services should not be totally effaced or dismantled in the city of Kolkata.” This clear directive expressed surprise at the significant assets of the Calcutta Tramways Corporation that had already been sold and imposed a ban on their future sale.
The Expert Committee’s Progress
The expert committee, under the stewardship of the Managing Director of West Bengal Transport Corporation, convened its inaugural meeting on August 21. This preliminary meeting primarily served as an introduction to the committee’s objectives. The minutes of this crucial session are expected to be submitted to the court this week, paving the way for the determination of the next hearing date.
A Call for More Trams
While the court’s intervention marks a positive development, the battle is far from over. Dr. Bhattacharyya explains, “The court’s prohibition on the sale of tramways property and the filling of tram tracks with bitumen are two promising developments. However, we are continuing with our protest in College Street because we advocate for an increase in the number of trams.” He emphasizes that during the bustling period leading up to Durga Puja, College Street is thronged with shoppers. In such scenarios, increased tram frequency is a win-win situation for the public and the tramways. Regrettably, recent trends have seen the traffic police halting tram services when areas become congested—a practice they vehemently oppose.
1. Why are trams significant for Kolkata?
Trams are a part of Kolkata’s heritage and offer an eco-friendly mode of transportation.
2. What is the current state of Kolkata’s tram system?
Kolkata’s tram system is dwindling, with only three operational routes.
3. What prompted the intervention of the Calcutta High Court?
A petition by a lawyer led to the court’s decision to preserve and restore trams in Kolkata.
4. Who leads the expert committee responsible for tram restoration?
The expert committee is led by the Managing Director of West Bengal Transport Corporation.
5. Why is the Calcutta Tram Users’ Association protesting?
They are advocating for an increase in the number of trams on operational routes.
6. How do trams benefit crowded areas like College Street?
Increased tram frequency during congested periods benefits both the public and the tramways.
The fate of Kolkata’s iconic trams hangs in the balance as the city awaits the expert committee’s recommendations. While the court’s prohibition on tramway property sales and track fillings is a promising step, the battle for more trams on operational routes rages on. The Calcutta Tram Users’ Association’s protest serves as a poignant reminder of the city’s rich tram heritage and its potential for a greener future.
Kolkatametro.in TramKolkata’s Iconic