RAJKOT: Chirtar Balasiya (50), former deputy sarpanch of Shiyal Bet island, about 1.5 km from Pipavav Port in Amreli district, is now assured of a brighter future of his children and others in the village. For the first time since Independence, this nondescript island village in Arabian Sea off Gujarat coast, got uninterrupted power supply from Saturday.
The entire village with over 800 households and population of 6,000, was lit up thanks to the 6.4 km long under-sea marine cable laid by the state-run Paschim Gujarat Vij Company Limited (PGVCL). With this connection the entire village will get a 24X7 power supply for households as well as small businesses.
Chief minister Anandiben Patel formally dedicated the projected during her visit to Shiyal Bet on Saturday.
“This is a new chapter in Shiyal Bet’s history. Now the village will have adequate electricity to educate the children and provide better healthcare facilities. People won’t have to travel to the mainland for small things,” said Chirtar.
As most of the villagers are engaged in fishing, electricity will help improve the economy by setting up cold storages, small processing factories and other cottage industries within the village, he said.
Shiyal Bet was dependent on kerosene lamps, battery-run lights
Earlier, electrification was attempted from Pipavav port, the nearest mainland from the island, but it failed as there was a possibility that anchors at the port site could damage the undersea cables. Villagers, most of them fishermen, till now were dependent on kerosene oil lamps or battery-run lights.
Ghelabhai Balasiya, a labourer, was delighted to see electricity at his home for the first time. “Now we get a feeling that we too are citizens of India.” Shiyal Bet falls in the jurisdiction of Jafrabad taluka of Amreli and is situated 5km from Chanch Bandar. Due to technical reasons, the village had remained without electricity since Independence. “Earlier, efforts to provide electricity to the island village had failed as the power cable used to get damaged during high tides. But, now the marine cable has been embedded in the underwater sea-bed, making it highly durable,” said Amreli collector Dilip Kumar Rana. The entire project cost is Rs 18 crore.
Anandiben described the project as a major milestone in the state’s growth story. “Consider myself privileged to have become the first CM of Gujarat to visit island village of Shiyal Bet in Amreli.”
Not just this island entrie country will be with electricity in a year as villages without electricity will be connected.
The power supply will pave the way for better healthcare and education facilities in the village itself, she said after dedicating a new secondary school and health centre on the island.