(AFP) – Deepa Bhoir used to sit in darkness outside her island home and stare at Mumbai glowing in the distance. Now she stays up late watching soap operas – one of millions of Indians whose lives have been transformed by a drive to get power to every corner of the country.
Bhoir and her husband Sasuram are among hundreds of villagers on the UNESCO world heritage-listed island of Elephanta to have had mains electricity installed in their houses for the first time.
Local officials hope tourists, who take a short boat ride from the bustle of Mumbai to visit the island’s famed fifth century caves, will now spend more time and money there, boosting local businesses and jobs.
“We’ve waited decades for this and we’re so happy. Now I can watch all my favourite shows without any interruptions. The TV is almost always on!” Bhoir tells AFP, grinning.
The island is renowned for its temple caves dating back more than 1,500 years and is home to around 1,200 people.
But despite living just 10 kilometres (six miles) from India’s financial capital, islanders have spent much of their lives without power.
“Lacking electricity was depressing and we faced numerous hardships,” says Sasuram, explaining that he and Deepa would often sleep outside during the summer to try to keep cool.
“It was sweltering inside. We would lie and look at the glittering lights of Mumbai and long for electricity to live fuller and more satisfying lives,” the 54-year-old adds.