By Sanjana Chappalli
Nine years after Girish Bharadwaj set up an engineering repair workshop in Sullia in coastal Karnataka, a group of people from his village, Alletty, approached him with a simple request. They wanted Bharadwaj to build a footbridge that would connect them to the mainland during the monsoon. Torrential rain during the monsoon cut off the village from the mainland, as streams swelled to impossible levels. The villagers wanted Bharadwaj’s help to better their lot. For Bharadwaj, it was a challenge that five years of engineering college had not prepared him for. Several months later, the villagers had their 87 metre-long footbridge and Karnataka had found itself a new hero. Nearly 80 bridges and 12 years later, Bharadwaj has now been able to mobilise the support of the state government as well for his low-cost venture. “A concrete bridge takes at least 18 months to build,” he says. “The suspension bridges take only three months.” With more than 100 requests for bridges pending before him, the 60-year-old is looking forward to his retirement. “It is time for others to step in,” he says quietly.
BHARADWAJ MAY BE REACHED AT 08257-230345