Seventy years after Independence of the country, the island that houses the UNESCO World Heritage site Elephanta Caves has got the gift of electricity. The world-famous Gharapuri Isle has finally got electricity through a 7.5-km long undersea cable. The project to electrify the island has cost a total Rs 25 crore. It took Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited around 15 months to take electricity to the Elephanta caves. Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the achievement in his Mann Ki Baat programme today.
According to the Electricity Board, this project is India’s longest undersea power cable which took around three months to lay. A transformer has been installed in each of the three villages, six streetlight towers each 13-metre tall with six powerful LED bulbs and provides individual power meter connections to 200 domestic and a few commercial consumers. Intensive testing was also successful.
A function was held at the island when renowned social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari formally switched on the power supply in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Jaykumar Raval, Ravindra, and other dignitaries.
After 70 years of independence, electricity came as a big surprise gift for three villages on the island- Raj Bander, Mora Bander and Shet Bander, which houses around 1,200 people involved in fishing, farming, boat repairs etc.
PM Modi also described the electricity supply to Gharapuri Isle as a “new beginning of a period of development”. “For 70 years, the lives of the denizens of three villages — Raj Bander, Mora Bander and Shet Bander — were engulfed by darkness, which has got dispelled now and there is brightness in their lives, ” PM said today.
Here’s what PM Modi said about electricity at Elephanta Caves:
“My dear Brothers and sisters, I was just watching the TV news two days ago that electricity has reached three villages of the Elephanta island after 70 years of independence, and this has led to much joy and enthusiasm among the people there. You all know very well, that Elephanta is located 10 kms by the sea from Mumbai. It is a very important tourist destination. The caves of Elephanta are marked as the World Heritage sites by UNESCO and draw tourists from all over the country and abroad. I was surprised to know that despite being such a prominent center of tourism its close proximity from Mumbai, electricity hadn’t reached Elephanta after so many years of independence. For 70 years, the lives of the denizens of three villages of the Elephanta Island, Rajbunder, Morbandar and Centabandar, were engulfed by darkness, which has got dispelled now and there is brightness in their lives. I congratulate the administration and the populace there. I am glad that now the villages of Elephanta and the caves of Elephanta will be lighted due to electrification. This is not just electricity, but a new beginning of a period of development. There is no greater contentment and joy than the fact that the lives of the countrymen be full of shine and there be happiness in their lives”.
The 22-KV undersea cable has four lines, including one exclusive standby line, to ensure 24×7 high-quality power to the Islanders with sufficient excess capacity to take care of future requirements for more than 30 years. The cable has been connected directly with the MSEDCL’s Olwa sub-station, Panvel Division in Raigad on the mainland.
The power connection is also expected to speed up work on the proposed 8-km long ropeway connecting Mumbai directly with Elephanta Island running above the Arabian Sea, planned by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT), and billed as a boon to nearly two million tourists who visit there annually. Since a small dam exists on this 16-sq km island, a water filtration plant can be set up to provide safe and clean drinking water to the locals and tourists, who now rely on bottled mineral water.