Sketching the BEST solution

Updated: Feb 08, 2020, 10:43 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

As part of a campaign focused on cleaner public transport, five Mumbai-based artists visualise a better city with renewable-powered electric buses

On February 1, the Union Budget allocated R22,000 crore to the power and renewable energy sector. But understanding and tracking how this amount will materialise into real action is a different ball game. That's where the power of citizen-backed initiatives lies — they not only make information accessible to the public but also spur citizen stakeholders. In October 2019, social impact agency Purpose joined hands with city-based not-for-profit Waatavaran, a climate, environment and sustainability foundation to tackle the issue of cleaner transport in the city.

Along with other citizen groups, they initiated the #SolarWalaBEST campaign to increase the acceptance of renewable-powered electric buses. And since the aim was to support the initiatives of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) through public engagement and creative solutions, Purpose commissioned five Mumbaikar artists to envision how a city powered by clean energy would look in 2020 via digital artworks that were published last month. "We gave them a brief about what the campaign is, but didn't set any limitations. Thus each artist introduced a personal element into their work. It was also important to find artists from different parts of the city and not just SoBo," reminds Suma Balaram, visual designer and design researcher at the agency, while campaigner Kritica Mahajan adds, "Different aspects have been visualised in the campaign — from giving back to Mumbai to what has happened to Aarey Forest. So, the bus ride is more than getting from point A to point B."

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Nitasha Nambiar, Vashi

Nitasha Nambiar

Mumbai is baptised as the City of Dreams and the influx invites an insurmountable crowd trying to win a great living. Local commute runs through the city's veins. This life cannot find its way to sustainability anymore and as a native of this city it is my prerogative to arm it with all the help that I can give. Be it as small as the stroke of my brush.

Arshad Sayyed, Ghatkopar

Arshad Sayyed, Ghatkopar

Arshad Sayyed

Mumbaikars embrace everything that is thrown at us with an open heart and undying spirit. When you think of Mumbai, you think of chaos, vibrancy, and colour. The #SolarWalaBEST buses are about to bring about a positive change and we should accept it with an open heart.

Pearl D'Souza, Bandra

Pearl D'Souza, Bandra

Pearl D'Souza

When I received the brief, I almost instantly knew what I wanted the piece to look like. Mumbai to me has always been full of an electric energy, in its people, streets, architecture, and heated air. It's an energy that is busy but also has pockets of warmth and comfort. It was important for me to communicate that.

Prince Lunawara, Mumbai Central

Prince Lunawara, Mumbai Central

Prince Lunawara

The dabbawallas on their bicycles were my first thought about sustainable transportation in the city. They have been efficient since the days of no Internet and cellphones. So, I incorporated a wire as a medium to connect or charge an electronic device. As citizens, we can be a wire that connects every individual and charge them to start a conversation around the sustainability.

Mira Malhotra, Malad

Mira Malhotra, Malad

Mira Malhotra

While the BEST bus is the main focus here, there's a larger commentary on public transport and preservation of the environment, without directly touching on the Metro, while using a joyful, nostalgic, live and let live approach that doesn't alienate the audience.

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