New power connections to lift Aarey's tribals out of dark ages

After being deprived of electricity all these past years, tribals living in Aarey Colony can now look forward to receiving electricity supply for the first time, come July

Most Mumbaikars enjoy 24-hour power supply, but within the same city live thousands of adivasis who continue to be deprived of this basic right. Come July though, tribal hamlets in Aarey Colony will receive electricity supply for the first time.

After years of living in the dark, tribals living in Aarey Colony will finally be provided with electricity from July. File pic
After years of living in the dark, tribals living in Aarey Colony will finally be provided with electricity from July. File pic

Over the last seven to eight months, Reliance Infrastructure has been laying power cable lines inside these adivasi padas and has now finally completed the work. They have now energised 367 new connections and will gradually increase the numbers after seeking relevant approvals from state government.

Presently the tribal areas where new metered connections will be given are Khambacha Pada, Matai Pada, Gaondevi, Old Hill Quarters, New Hill Quarters and Unit 17, Unit 6, Unit 32 and Unit 22. Gradually, a couple of other areas like Vanicha Pada and unit 19 will also be added to the distribution network once work is over.

Aarey Colony houses 27 adivasi padas with over 8,000 tribal voters. However, many of the padas nestled in Aarey and in the adjoining Sanjay Gandhi National Park, such as Vanichapada and Khadakpada, are shrouded in darkness without proper electricity and lighting. Sources said that this issue has been under discussion since 2006.

Solar lamps
Currently, local residents are using solar powered lamps as a light source. In fact, in May, Sachin Tendulkar distributed 500 solar lamps among the adivasi community using his MP funds.

RInfra officials said that there were several roadblocks to the process of laying the cables, especially because of the difficult forest terrain. Rocky patches, trees and bushes, Aarey dairy tabelas and uneven roads all came in the way of the work.

The streetlights weren’t working either, and the workers had to pack up before sunset to avoid wild animals. “We had to go 10 km inside Aarey Colony to lay the cables in order to commission this new network,” said a RInfra official.

The company also commissioned five new substations in Aarey, along with new high-tension and low-tension cable networks spanning around 10 km. “We expect a demand of 200 KVA from this area,” added the official.

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