Seventy years after Independence, the Gharapuri island that houses the Elephanta Caves will finally get 24×7 power supply starting Thursday thanks to four 7.5km undersea cables that will carry electricity all the way from Uran. Though just 10km off the Mumbai coast, the caves, a UNESCO world heritage site, and the three villages on the island with a 950-strong population have, for close to three decades, received power through generators.
The shift to marine cables, said officials, will eliminate concerns about intermittent supply and boost tourism on the island that sees huge footfalls. “MTDC (Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation) incurred major expenditure on diesel bills but provided electricity through generators for 27 years. The permanent supply will solve villagers’ problems,” said Vijay Waghmare, MTDC MD.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (MSEDCL), which began work on the project in 2015, will inaugurate the supply line on Thursday. “The 7.5km cables are the longest laid on the seabed anywhere in India,” said an MSEDCL official.
After several years, the Elephanta Festival was last month shifted back from the Gateway of India to Gharapuri. Power was supplied for it via the underwater cables, and the system made the fest a big hit, an official said.
“The special cables were laid with the help of technology that can withstand choppy seas and underwater pressure. There are four cables of single core installed at a depth of 20-25m, and they connect to the T S Rehman sub-station in Uran. Three of the cables are meant for three transformers installed on the island, and the fourth one is for an emergency,” said Chandrashekhar Mankar, superintending engineer at MSEDCL’s Navi Mumbai circle.
“A proposal is underway to get streetlights. The marketplace will be lit soon as we are receiving connection forms from shopkeepers here,” an official added. “We will also cover the cables with special concrete,” he said.
“Over 60% of students from this island are pursuing their education in Uran town and adjoining areas, while the remaining have to travel by boats daily. We are happy to have uninterrupted power supply. It has been a long wait. Supply from the MTDC generator was only for a few hours daily,” said Prashant Patil, a Shetbundar resident.