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In Focus

And then, there was power!

In February 2018, power reached Elephanta Island via a a 7.5 km-long, and India’s longest, undersea cable. While the cost of the electrification project came to about Rs 25 crore, it took the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution company (MSEDC) a year and quarter to complete.

In February 2018, power reached Elephanta Island

Now, each of the three villages on the island has a transformer of its own and six street-lights about 13 metres high. In a high-profile function attended by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and other ministers, social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari switched on the power supply on an island that had been in the dark for way too long.

Part of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of electrification of all of India within 1,000 days of his term, the target was achieved in 987 days, with Leisang in Manipur becoming the ‘last village’ to be added to the power grid on April 28.

“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,” said the Prime Minister, echoing their sentiments.

A 22-KV undersea cable supplied to the Island has four lines, including one standby line that ensures the supply of round-the-clock power with excess capacity to meet requirements for more than 30 years. It has been connected directly with the MSEDCL’s Olwa sub-station, Panvel division, in Raigad on the mainland.

An RO water filtration plant is also set up on the island so that islanders can have access to safe, clean drinking water procured from a small dam on the 16 sq km island. And, in the pipeline is a proposed 8-km ropeway connecting Mumbai directly with the Elephanta Island.

Till the ropeway comes through, and more tourists arrive on the island, the Islanders can watch television around the clock instead of the barely two-hour window period when an MTDC generator would provide them power in the evenings.

“Now I can see most of the Primetime programmes on my favourite channels without any interruption,” says 19-year-old Malati while “my mother can watch, Kapil Sharma show late even at night.” The small pleasures of entertainment that the rest of India takes so much for granted are now within reach for Elephanta’s native and for the first time in their lives.

This report has been prepared for DraftCraft International’s Flagship Initiative, The Elephanta Island Project to research, analyse and determine the rights and liabilities of Islanders, local and foreign tourists vis-a-vis the responsibility of the State towards all stakeholders and natural resources while upholding the law of the land and ensuring the protection of environment that tops the list of priorities. The initiative examines laws and policies regarding islands, sea transport, privacy, women’s rights, health, protection of the environment and rights and liabilities of tourists guaranteed to all by the State in context of the Right To Equality, Freedoms, The Right to Life and Global Conventions to which India is a signatory.