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Building a ‘bridge’ when everything else fails to hold

AJ Vinayak Mangaluru | Updated on June 26, 2021

When elected representatives fail, villagers build ‘grama setu’ with own contributions

At a time when highways and flyovers are coming up all over the country, some villages are still struggling to get even footbridges to tackle monsoon-related problems.

Basic connectivity with the rest of the world becomes a problem because of the lack of a bridge over the stream/river in those villages.

 

Many people rue the apathy of the governments towards them in such a situation. But the residents of Mogra, a village with a population of around 1,500 in the foothills of Western Ghats in Sullia taluk of Karnataka, resorted to the principle of ‘little drops of water make the ocean’ to build a footbridge, as their repeated appeals to the elected representatives failed to get any positive response.

A collective effort

Mahesh Puchchappady, a resident of the region, saidit was the team effort of the villagers that led to the construction of a steel footbridge named ‘Grama Setu’ on the stream flowing in their village.

Mogra, around 100 km from Mangaluru, has a government primary school, a primary health centre, and an anganwadi. But heavy rainfall during monsoon and the associated floodsmade it difficult for students to reach their schools. It was also a problem for the villagers to get health services in case of emergencies during the rainy season.

The villagers had to walk on the temporary footbridge made out of the areca logs during monsoon season. Puchchappady said nearly 70 students were using the temporary footbridge during the rainy season earlier.

However, many parents shifted their children to other schools in nearby villages/towns in the past few years.

As a result, the strength of the entire school, which has classes from 1st standard to 7th standard, has now come down to 30, he said.

The villagers took it as a challenge when the years of their appeals to the elected representatives to construct a bridge in their village did not get any positive response.

While many villagers voluntarily contributed for the construction of ‘Grama Setu’, some private companies and enterprises also came forward to contribute to this project.

On June 5, the villagers approached Patanjali Bharadwaj, son of Padmashri awardee Girish Bharadhwajknown for constructing several hanging bridges in rural and remote areas across the countrywith a proposal to construct a bridge. And in 20 days, a 20-metre-long steel footbridge with a width of 1.2 metre, was ready.

Trial run

Stating that some final works on the footbridge are in progress, Puchchappady said the villagers have done a trial run on this. They can even carry their two-wheelers on this steel footbridge. They are all happy with this footbridge, he said.

On naming the footbridge as ‘Grama Setu’, he said: “The ‘setuve’ (bridge in Kannada) is the collective effort of our ‘grama’.That is why we call it as ‘Grama Setu’.”

Published on June 25, 2021

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