Dakshina Kannada villagers build pedestrian steel bridge through crowd-funding

Villagers pose in front of the steel bridge, which replaces a temporary bridge that was built using areca palm ahead of every monsoon.  

After their demand for a bridge across a rivulet did not get any response from the Karnataka government, like-minded people of a village in Dakshina Kannada district accomplished the task on their own. They built a pedestrian steel bridge through crowd-funding.

The rivulet is on Edoni-Eranagudde-Mogra Road at Mogra village under Guthigar Gram Panchayat in Sullia taluk. The road connects to Balpa and Guthigar towns. Balpa Gram Panchayat was, incidentally, selected by Dakshina Kannada Member of Parliament Nalin Kumar Kateel as ‘aadarsha grama’ (model village).

The steel bridge replaces a temporary bridge that was built using areca palm ahead of every monsoon by the Guthigar Gram Panchayat since decades.

But the wooden bridge becomes weak in about two months owing to rains. “Whenever the rivulet was full due to heavy rains, students and women avoided using the wooden bridge,” said Mahesh Puchchappady, a journalist-cum-agriculturist who took the initiative of getting the steel bridge constructed through civil engineer Pathanjali Bharadwaj, son of Padmashree awardee Girish Bharadwaj who has built several hanging bridges for rural connectivity across India.

Mr. Pathanjali Bharadwaj told The Hindu that the pedestrian bridge is 19.2 metres long and 1.2 metres wide. It was built in 20 days starting June 5 at a cost of around ₹1.25 lakh and can take the weight of a two-wheeler.

“We used water-proof and durable plywood planks on an experimental basis to reduce the cost of construction with the consent of local people who offered shramdaan (voluntary work) for the project. Local construction materials were used to reduce the cost of construction,” Mr. Bharadwaj said.

Mr. Puchchappady said that 50% of the cost has been borne by the villagers. The rest of the money is being raised through contributions from some private companies.

Use of the bridge on trial basis began on Thursday. It is expected to be ready for use by the public on the weekend after completing minor works, he said. The bridge will provide permanent connectivity to a government health centre and a school in Mogra. The project has brought a smile on the faces of about 80 families in the surroundings of the rivulet.

Mr. Bharadwaj said that this is probably a rare pedestrian steel bridge to be built through crowd-funding in recent years in the coastal and Malnad belts.

People had been petitioning the local MLA (S. Angara, now Minister for Fisheries, Ports and Inland Water Transport) for a regular bridge since 2006. In addition, they had submitted their request to all other elected representatives, like members of Parliament, zilla panchayat and taluk panchayat. As a last resort, they petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2020, Mr. Puchchappady said.

“Following the petition to the Prime Minister, the Dakshina Kannada zilla panchayat ordered work on assessing the feasibility and cost of construction of a regular concrete bridge,” he told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 4:30:59 PM |

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