NEW DELHI: More than 50 years after they were scrapped in the Indian capital, trams are set to make a comeback on New Delhi's congested streets, a redevelopment official said Thursday.
The Delhi government is planning to bring trams, first introduced by India's British colonial rulers, to the old city where pedestrians compete for space with rickshaws, handcarts, cars and cows.
Government official Nitin Panigrahi, who will work on the project, said the aim was to encourage people to abandon cars for the trolleys as they travel between historic sights in Old Delhi.
"The work will begin next year and the project will be commissioned in 2018," Panigrahi, deputy general manager of the government's Shahjahanabad (Old Delhi) redevelopment corporation, told AFP.
Delhi government ministers announced the plan during a visit to the walled old city this week.
Old Delhi is packed with businesses, markets and tourist attractions and its roads struggle to cope with the resulting crush of traffic.
But Panigrahi said the proposed 4.3-kilometre (2.6-mile) long tramway will be fenced off, allowing trolleys to move freely between the World Heritage-listed Red Fort, Jama Masjid mosque and the main railway station.
Heritage conservation expert A.G.K. Menon said the plan was long overdue and would add value to the historically and culturally significant area.
"This will certainly return some sense to the streets and boost tourism prospects in the area," Menon told AFP.
Delhi's trams started running in 1908, with more tracks laid after colonial rulers shifted the capital from then Calcutta to Delhi. But they stopped in 1964 partly because of rising congestion.
A string of other cities also ran trams but only Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, still operates them.