Nearly 1,200 residents of the Elephanta island, famous for its Hindu cave sculptures and located around 10 km off Mumbai coast, have a reason to cheer as the Maharashtra government has decided to provide electricity to this popular tourist destination from August 15 this year.
The island’s population is estimated to be 1,200. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar
The island, despite its proximity to the country’s financial capital and housing caves which were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, is still without electricity, which makes things difficult for its residents.
Maharashtra Energy Minister Chandrashekhar Bawankule yesterday said the government will lay an underwater power cable network between mainland Mumbai and the island at a cost of R28 crore for the electrification.
“For so many years, the inhabitants of Elephanta island have been living without proper power supply. Life comes to a standstill on the island after sunset as there is no power supply,” Bawankule said. No tourists are allowed to stay on the island after sunset. The first ferry to the island leaves from Gateway of India at 12.30 pm, while the last ferry leaves at 5.30 pm.
“The government has now decided to provide electricity supply to Elephanta island as well as the Ajanta-Ellora caves. The state cannot not let these internationally recognised tourist destinations remain without power supply for this long,” he said.
A power supply cable network will be laid with technical assistance from US and UK-based companies. The cable will have a brake-plate and will be able to withstand choppy seas and underwater pressure, the minister added.
The population of the island is estimated to be around 1,200. The problem of drinking water was solved recently with the construction of a dam.
The local population is engaged in cultivating rice, fishing and boat repairing.