Representational Photo
Representational Photo

Mumbai: The ambitious launch of the historic tram that was scheduled to be displayed in a public garden in South Mumbai this week has been deferred as Coronavirus scare grips the city. Following the state government’s advisory to avoid mass gathering and the lockdown till March 31, the inauguration of the project has been cancelled until further notice.

“The revival of trams in the city, that was scheduled to be launched this week, has been cancelled following government’s advisory to avoid mass gathering. This is in public interest and we respect it. Once things are back on track, we will re-introduce trams in South Mumbai,” said Chand Jadhav, assistant municipal commissioner of A ward (Churchgate, Fort, Colaba).

Expected to become a tourist attraction, the revival of trams in Mumbai will mean the historic trams will be displayed at Bhatia Baug area, near the CSTM railway station where it was.

The civic authorities initially had plans to auction the tram, however, some of the officials suggested that a feasibility test can be conducted to see if tram service can we started on selected routes in south Mumbai during weekends. However, the civic body found that it is not feasible to start trams on busy and crowded roads in South Mumbai. The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) administration had handed over the coaches, that were kept outside Anik Depot BEST museum to the BMC for restoration last year. It took a few months for the private firm appointed to restore them. The civic body had allocated Rs 15.73 lakh from its budget for this.

The tram was to be restored to run on a selected route in South-Mumbai from Kala Ghoda to Electric House was operational between 1874 and 1907 in Kolkata. In 1993, two coaches were brought to Mumbai and kept at the BEST museum.

While the heritage tram was expected to be opened up for the public last year, beautification works and modifications to the more than 100-year old tram took longer than expected.

Jadhav added: “The tram has already been installed on an elevated podium since December last year. The beautification work for the area around the tram installation is in its final stages. The set-up that was to be inaugurated this week, will have to wait for some time now.”

The first horse-drawn service started between Parel and Colaba in 1874. Thirty years later, electric trams replaced them.

BEST bought the Bombay Tramway Company Ltd (BTCL) and started operating Mumbai’s first electric tram system in May 1907 while the double-decker trams were introduced in 1920. In March 1964, tram service was withdrawn from the city owing to increase in traffic in Mumbai.

However, traces of this historic and eco friendly mode of transport were left in the form of it’s tracks.

Earlier in February 2016,BMC’s road engineers found remains of tram tracks were found underneath a road in south Mumbai during excavation near the Bombay High Court building and later it was displayed at a museum of BEST.

Trams have however managed to survive in only one Indian city, Kolkata. But this eco-friendly and cheap transport has become a burden on the city’s roads due to lack of modernisation.

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Free Press Journal