Kasaragod: Driven by the philosophy that peace of mind need not necessarily come by visiting centres of pilgrimage but by extending a helping hand to the deprived, a 71-year-old man here has built 148 houses for the poor, mobilising funds from his own resources.

K.N. Gopalakrishna Bhat, popularly known as Sairam Bhat, has become a role model for others by resolving to allocate a major portion of his family’s income to build accommodation for those who find it hard to build one on their own.

With seven more houses scheduled to be handed over by Inspector-General of Police (North Zone) V. Shantaram at Badiyaduka, near here, on May 7, the number of roof-tiled houses with one hall, bedroom and kitchen, each costing nearly Rs.50,000, is touching the 148 mark.

Hailing from an agricultural family, based at Sithangoli, near Badiyaduka, Mr. Bhat, who was getting ready to visit the pilgrim centre of Varanasi in 1995, dropped his plans after an impoverished labourer from a nearby locality sought his help to construct a house.

“If I could fulfil the dream of the hapless labourer, I might be more at peace and closer to God. I resolved to use the money mobilised for the pilgrimage and managed to mop up an additional sum to build the first house, for the labourer,” Mr. Bhat said.

He, along with his son, focusses on ensuring drinking water facilities to houses in the nearby four to five panchayats. — PTI