Residents of the Elephanta Island can finally bid farewell to darkness and diesel generators. On Monday, 30 homes of Rajbander village on the island that hosts the heritage Elephanta Caves, will be lit up with solar lamps.
The island, which is a 90-munite ferry ride away from the Gateway of India, does not have electricity as it is not connected to an electric grid.
Its 1,500 residents get four hours of power every,day – between 7 pm and 11pm – from diesel fed power generators provided by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC).
As part of a pilot project, 30 homes will be given four lamps that will run on solar power. The project will soon be scaled up to provide non-conventional energy to other residents.
“The solar lamps will serve as a great advantage in a place that has seen no electricity at all. While we are trying to lay an undersea cable to provide electricity, we thought of starting with solar lamps,” said Ratnakar Gaikwad, commissioner, Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA).
“If this project is successful, we can replicate it in other parts of the state that have no electricity.” The project is a collaboration between MMRDA, Pune-based Science and Technology Park (STP) and Solar Gem, an Australian company, which will bear almost 90% of the Rs 1 crore cost.
The Elephanta Caves are a UNESCO heritage site and have rock-cut stone sculptures of Shiva dating between fifth to eight century.
The project will also provide solar-powered street lights on the island. Japanese designer Masaya Omura was roped in to design the street poles keeping in mind the cave art and the monkey menace.