Mumbai: Electricity supplier BEST Thursday provided power connection to the modest garage-home of India’s hockey hero Yuvraj Walmiki, bringing tears to the eyes of the family members.
"In the past two days, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has spoken to me on several occasions, wanting to know the status of the electricity connection. Working on a war-footing, we have connected his home with electricity today," said BEST chairman Sunil Shinde.
Walmiki scored in the penalty strokes during the Asian Champions Trophy final Sunday against Pakistan in China, which India won.
Last Tuesday, shocked by the plight of the Walmiki family, Shinde had ordered his department to provide them with an electricity connection on a top priority basis.
"I was born 21 years ago in darkness and living here with my family without electricity since then. Our home looks very different, almost unrecognizable now," said Walmiki, his eyes moist at seeing his house illuminated this evening.
The BEST and Shiv Sena had organised a band which played when the lights were switched on at dusk in the presence of Shinde and other top officials of the BMC.
Replying to a question, Shinde said that it was imperative for Walmiki to move into a better home and said his party would pursue the matter with the state government.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan felicitated Walmiki for his achievement and handed over a cheque of Rs.10 lakh to the player.
"We are solidly with Walmiki, who has overcome huge hurdles to bring glory to the country and the state," Chavan said on the occasion.
Chavan further announced that Walmiki would be given a suitable government job as a Class II (gazetted) officer.
Walmiki hails from a very poor economic background and his family has been struggling to make ends meet while allowing him the luxury of pursuing his career in hockey.
At least five members of the family, including father Sunil Walmiki, have been living since nearly four decades in a tiny garage situated inside a building compound.
The dwelling is so small that half the household belongings like vessels are kept outside so that the family has space to sleep inside during this year’s heavy monsoon in the city.
"We have no other place to go and cannot afford to buy any house in Mumbai. But we have allowed Yuvraj to play all the hockey he wants. We are happy he has brought such a big honour to the country," his father Sunil Walmiki, who does odd jobs, told media-persons here on Thursday.
The makeshift home in the garage did not have electricity connection for all these years and so his two children studied at night under street lamps, Sunil Walmiki added.