You know you are in Kolkata when you see yellow ambassadors populating city roads. Amidst all the yellow, there is Dhananjay Chakrabarty, a cab-driver in Kolkata, who is breaking the monotony by adding some green to the mix, driving his taxi with a grass bed growing on the roof, a bunch of potted plants in the boot space and some others still towards the front. Fondly addressed as Bappi-da, Chakrabarty has taken an unprecedented step to contribute his bit towards nature. "The continuous depletion of the green cover bothers me a lot. I have loved nature for as long as I remember. It has been a constant effort to keep my surrounding as green as possible," says Chakrabarty.
He planted his first mobile plant when a careless passenger discarded an empty alcohol bottle inside his cab, which he cleaned and grew a money plant in. His peers mocked him and said this effort was futile and there was no chance this plant could actually grow. But Chakrabarty had nothing to lose. Within no time the plant caught roots and marked the beginning of this moving garden that he calls his "green chariot". Chakrabarty went ahead and decided to expand the greenery around his taxi. He set up a 65 kg grass bed atop the cab in the carrier's space. The tray's bracket has been painted by Chakrabarty and his friends who have also painted environmental messages on the taxi. "It is a tin box that has been filled with a mix of sand and mud that can grow grass. I have lined the insides of the tray so that it doesn't rust. The drainage from the tray makes sure no mud overflows and makes a mess," says Chakrabarty. The boot of the car holds about eight or nine potted plants that are regularly watered and maintained by him. "The entire set-up cost me about Rs 35,000. But there is no monthly expenditure to maintain it because I do all of it myself. Instead of saving my earnings, I have spent all of it in this and am completely out of funds. I have to clear some debts too. But I want to continue to promote greenery as and when I can manage the necessary funds."
Chakrabarty also distributes pamphlets which have small poems and couplets that he has written. Even if one visits the Tollygunge taxi stand, Chakrabarty’s spot can be identified from a distance because of the distinct greenery.
People around the green-chariot are undoubtedly amused by this thought, by its innovation and execution. His fellow drivers are inspired by what he has done but are unable to follow suit because most of them don't drive throughout the year. Even when they do, they aren't assigned to a single taxi. On the other hand, his passengers appreciate his effort and take tons of photographs from all possible angles; they are excited to board his unique taxi. While most taxis in Kolkata get scorched because sometimes it's near-impossible to drive in the heat, Chakrabarty's chariot continues to comfortably ferry passengers. "My taxi is at least three-four degrees cooler than the temperature outside because of the plants," he says.
Chakrabarty also distributes pamphlets that have small poems and couplets that he has written, all to encourage people to plant more trees. Even if one visits the Tollygunge taxi stand, Chakrabarty's spot can be identified from a distance because of the distinct greenery that surrounds the place. "If a person is determined to do something, he will do it anyway and my taxi is an example of that. I want to urge people to take the depletion of nature seriously and do their bit to replenish the greenery." says Chakrabarty.