How would you react if you saw a movable garden in your city? If you are thinking how a garden can be movable, then welcome to the world of the only taxi in India with a rooftop garden.

Well, if you think that this is not for real, then you are greatly mistaken. The City of Joy, Kolkata, boasts of a taxi with a rooftop and indoor garden, out on the roads of the city to spread awareness on saving our environment.

Dhananjay Chakroborty, popularly known as Bapi Da*, a taxi driver in his early 40’s, decided to turn the taxi he drives into a miniature, mobile garden.

A taxi driver by profession, Bapi Da, used to work in a wire making factory which shut down like many other factories in West Bengal from the early 90’s.

Unable to continue his schooling after class VII (eighth standard) due to extreme financial constraints in the family, Bapi da, started working in the factory as a labour.

However, that did not stop him from learning. When Bapi da was unable to pay his school fees, his teachers fuelled his passion for learning, guiding him through home tuitions.

After losing the job at the factory, he decided to pick up driving as his profession. He approached Amardeep Singh, the owner of couple of taxi’s in Kolkata, to drive one of his taxi.

Not only that, he also approached Mr Singh to turn the taxi as a carrier for spreading his message about saving the environment by blending it with his profession.

Mr. Singh, a noble man, gave Bapi Da a go ahead to turn the taxi into a mobile garden. There has been no looking back since them.

“Ever since my childhood I have been fond of trees and environment. As I grew up in the city, I started realizing how our nature is being endangered. I sincerely felt I need to raise an awareness and work to save our nature from further destruction,” says Bapi Da.

The unique concept of creating awareness on environmental preservation and conservation through the taxi he drives made waves not only in the city but across India.

Bapi Da is not only a crusader, but also a humble human being, always ready to extend his helping hand for anyone and everyone in the city. Be it an emergency during odd hours or an involvement in other social causes, Bapi Da is always around to support a noble cause.

Despite the ridicule and demotivating things he has to face on and off during this journey, his visions and goals have touched the heart of many.

“People often thought that I am doing this just for some media hype and making quick bucks. They even claimed me to be crazy. But nothing could stop me from moving ahead,” Bapi says.

In fact, after almost 5 years to this mission, Bapi Da, has found thousands of people from all walks of life to stand by him. People across the society has come ahead to support him spread the message around for protecting our environment.

Apart from raising awareness on the environment, the green taxi named as ‘Sobuj Rath’ or Green Chariot, also has social messages painted inside and outside the car.

Many renowned illustrators and cartoonists have contributed to the cause by conveying these messages through his taxi.

On a constant drive to make his mission a success, Bapi Da is involved with various social welfare organizations and engaged with people who are working for social upliftment.

“It is not my dream alone to save the environment. It should be the aim of one and all. Young and old alike. We need to understand that by putting our nature in danger, by cutting trees, by creating pollution, we are only heading towards bringing an end to our world,” the campaigner says.

Bapi da, now drives his own white taxi ambassador, with a rooftop garden, indoor plants with a new mission again to spread awareness on reading habits for children.

“With mobile phones all around, children are hooked to the gadgets, either playing games or fiddling with apps. There are so many children who do not read story books or even recognize the cartoon characters that the previous generations were attached to,” he says.

Bapi da, with the support from a person who was the first one to launch the only online Bengali bookstore in 2010 followed by others later on, has started distributing cartoon books for children in his taxi at a discounted and nominal price.

However, the support he has received from people have been constrained for various reasons over time. “I bought the white taxi on a loan with the intention of driving to the capital, New Delhi. I want to gift the PM a plant and want to spread the awareness all through the way towards Delhi, by reaching out to schools, organizations, people to join my mission. I have got the permits but financial constraints are a big obstacle to move ahead,” he says.

There is no stopping this man with a heart of gold. He does not give up and is on a constant move to make things work to drive to the capital. This is just the tip of an iceberg, he strongly beliefs. Irrespective of all hurdles, he is determined to move on.

It may take time, but anyone with a burning passion can never fail, says Bapi Da with a smiling face.

* (‘Da’ is a short form of the Bengali word ‘Dada’ meaning brother)

Submitted by Upalparna Dey

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