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A bridge to the rest of the world

K. JEEVAN CHINNAPPA
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A girl walking on the newly built hanging bridge at Teppadakandi in Guddehosur, Kodagu.— Photo: Nanda Kumar
A girl walking on the newly built hanging bridge at Teppadakandi in Guddehosur, Kodagu.— Photo: Nanda Kumar

The opening of the new hanging bridge across the Cauvery at Teppadakandi in Kodagu on October 30 has fulfilled the dreams of the residents of Guddehosur and surrounding areas in Kodagu and those in Maroor, Doddaharave, Doddahosur, Ranigate, and Embhathu Acre villages in Periyapatna taluk of Mysore district on the other side of the river. The residents of both sides lived dangerously, especially students, who had been crossing the Cauvery on a country-made bamboo raft for many years now. The risky travel has led to deaths on certain occasions in the past.

This spot assumes the name since ‘teppa’ is raft and ‘kandi’ means spot. The foundation stone for the bridge was laid by Padmanabha Bhat, Chairman of the Malnad Area Development Board (MADB), in the presence of the Minister for Youth Services and Sports and Kodagu district in-charge, M.P. Appachu Ranjan, on August 29 last year. The MADB has spent Rs. 85 lakh for the project.

The bridge now cuts down the travel distance from Periyapatna side to Guddehosur in Kodagu by nearly 13 km.

The bamboo raft was the only mode of transport to cross the Cauvery from the Periyapatna side to Kodagu and vice versa for many years. The Kodagu district administration and elected representatives had turned a blind eye to the travails of the residents on both sides for many decades. The students would themselves hold the ‘rudder’ in their hands to steer the raft. Milkmen would carry cans on the raft, and those using cycles would carry them also on the raft.

The hanging bridge comes as a big relief for scores of students who travelled from the Periyapatna side, particularly from Maroor village, to Guddehosur to reach the middle school there and the high school and colleges in Kushalnagar. Farmers came with cans to sell milk in Kodagu and labourers to work in the plantations and constructions sites in and around Guddehosur. According to Putta, a resident of Guddehosur, his father would say that the residents had been using the bamboo raft for nearly a century now. However, their movements would stop once the Cauvery swelled and flowed dangerously during the monsoon, cutting off connection between Periyapatna and Kodagu. The new bridge would put to rest all the problems the residents had to put up with in the past, he said.

Many farmers in Guddehosur possessed farmland in Maroor village. And, some of them would never visit their holdings during the monsoon. Whether the Kodagu district administration declared monsoon holidays or not during heavy rainy days, it used to be holidays for the students coming from the villages in Periyapatna taluk. Or else, they would risk their lives while crossing the swollen Cauvery. Students cross the river since it would take just about four km for them to reach Kushalnagar town.

On the other hand, reaching Kushalnagar town from Maroor and nearby villages used to take more than 17 km via Koppa.

Similarly, the cry of the residents in Kanive village in Kodagu and others in Periypatna taluk is over after the inauguration of the hanging bridge at Kanive village a few months ago. The nearly 80-metre-long, MADB-funded bridge across the Cauvery is facilitating movement of the people from Kodagu and Mysore districts. Boats were being used in the past to cross the river.

The bridge would connect people of Kanive and surrounding villages in Somwarpet taluk of Kodagu with Chikkakamaravalli, Doddakamaravalli, Dindugadu, Mantikoplu, Sulekote and other areas in Periyapatna taluk.

Everyone can now heave a sigh of relief, says Guddemane Vishukumar, a resident of Guddehosur, who has been fighting for the hanging bridge for many years.

Rajanna, another resident of Guddehosur, said that things moved a bit during R. Gundu Rao’s tenure as Chief Minister (he hailed from Kushalnagar), but lost steam after some years. Media reports had not been able to garner the attention of the powers-that-be so far, he said. However, the hanging bridge would serve as a vital lifeline to the people in both districts in future, he says.

K. JEEVAN CHINNAPPA

The hanging bridge across the Cauvery at Teppadakandi is a dream come true for the residents of Kodagu and Periyapatna