* An unseasonal ‘Diwali’ has suddenly been ushered on the island
* The official is hopeful that now, the Islanders can get better educational institutions, boost tourism
Seventy years after Independence, a 7.5-km long undersea cable has finally brought electricity to the world-famous Gharapuri Isle, which houses the UNESCO World Heritage site Elephanta Caves, about 10-km from Mumbai, a top official said here on Thursday.
The project to electrify the island, thronged daily by thousands of Indian and foreign tourists, has cost a total of Rs 25 crore and was completed in 15 months, said Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd. Regional Director Satish Karape.
“This is India’s longest undersea power cable which took around three months to lay. Plus, we have installed a transformer in each of the three villages, six streetlight towers each 13-metre tall with six powerful LED bulbs and provided individual power meter connections to 200 domestic and a few commercial consumers. Intensive testing over past three days has been successful,” Karape told IANS.
A function will be held at the island later in the day when renowned social reformer Appasaheb Dharmadhikari will formally ‘switch on’ the power supply in the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, his ministers Chandrashekhar Bawankule, Jaykumar Raval, Ravindra, and other dignitaries.
Karape said that of the total project cost, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority gave Rs 18.50 crore while the rest had been borne from the MSEDCL’s own resources.
The 22-KV 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, he explained.
An unseasonal ‘Diwali’ has suddenly been ushered on the island, which used to be plunged into darkness after dusk in the absence of electricity at the three villages — Raj Bander, Mora Bander and Shet Bander — housing around 1,200 people, mostly engaged in fishing, farming, boat-repairs and tourism-related activities.
Since the past few years, however, the villagers managed with just three hours electricity courtesy power generators provided by the state government, but these were expensive and unreliable.
The previous Congress-Nationalist Congress Party regime had initiated the proposal, but it fell through as the tender attracted a single bid, and later the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government revived the proposal almost two years ago.
The 22-KV cable has been connected directly with the MSEDCL’s Olwa sub-station, Panvel Division in Raigad on the mainland, Karape said.
The official is hopeful that now, the Islanders can get better educational institutions, boost tourism — probably with the overnight stay, subject to other governmental clearances — install a lighthouse on the isle’s hilltop, and even power the Elephanta Caves if the Archaeological Survey of India permits.
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.
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 it annually.
Inhabited since the 2nd Century BC, the island has seven big and small rock-cut caves temples carved between 5th-6th Centuries AD. It was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.
The island also has two large British-era canons atop the hill.
Presently, the thickly-forested island abounds in monkeys and other creatures, is accessible only by an hour-long voyage by motorboats and launches from Gateway of India or Raigad, with the compulsory return in the evening.
The glitz and glamour of Bollywood creates a dream world in front of our eyes, but what is the reality? Long after a film has been released, long after the sets have been de-constructed, broken pieces of the set remain scattered here and there turning the place into a mess. This is exactly what actor-filmmaker Pooja Bhatt has pointed a finger at.
Pooja took to Twitter on Saturday to express how the Film City in Mumbai’s Goregaon is turning into a mess. She suggested that instead of waiting for the authorities to intervene, people from the film industry should take an initiative to clean it.
She tweeted: “Film City is bustling with activity. Shame that it is in such a mess. Debris from sets long de-constructed lie everywhere. The access roads are non-existent. Why can’t we film folk clean up after we create these imaginary worlds on camera? Authorities don’t seem to care. But we must.”
Reacting to Pooja’s tweet, a user urged superstars Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Ajay Devgn to do something to clean up film city which takes an even worse shape in the prolonged monsoon of Mumbai.
The tweet read: “Why authorities to blame, take it on your own. From these sets you earn millions of rupees and thrown debris everywhere. This stretch becomes worst in monsoon. Sir @SrBachchan @akshaykumar @ajaydevgn plz look into and start swachchta Abhiyan in FC Goregaon everyone will support u.”
Another user suggested: “Bollywood must act as an organization. Should have a monitoring body which ensure such things to be done by without fail by the concerned film crew.”
While several Bollywood stars take part in beach clean up drives every now and then in Mumbai, it is now to be seen whether they will take up an initiative to clean up Film City or not. (Bollywood Country)