If you hire a taxi in Kolkata and suddenly realize fellow motorists and passersby are ogling at you or angling their cellphone cameras at the vehicle to get a better view at traffic intersections, chances are it is not your charm offensive that they are after.
Instead, take a good look at the cab you are on board. A miniature garden in the dashboard: Tick; a few plants dancing happily on its boot: Tick; the roof done up with a patch of green grass: Tick.Voila! You are riding Kolkata’s ‘Sabuj Rath’ (green chariot).
In a city where most yellow cab drivers are infamous for charging extra bucks or rudely refusing rides to passengers, soft-spoken Dhananjay Chakraborty, who drives the Sabuj Rath, has no such demands.
His only motto is to raise awareness about our environment and he politely requests passengers who take a ride with him to plant more trees wherever they can.
The 40-year-old green crusader drives a yellow Ambassador that has a rooftop covered with a bed of real grass.
So how did this idea dawn on him?
“Over the past few decades, Kolkata has seen a massive construction boom, resulting in hack of trees and depletion of green cover. Gardens these days are being set up on terrace of big buildings to help trap pollutants and deflect heat. That inspired me to come up with the idea. All I want is to make greenery visible to people and inculcate the love for nature,” said Chakraborty.
If Chakraborty’s intention was to draw attention to an important issue, he has been quite successful. Most who come across his ‘green chariot’ shower appreciation, take pictures and praise him for the initiative.