inspirational story comes to us from India.
With just wooden planks, steel ropes and people’s trust, this bridgeman of India has succeeded in providing connectivity to millions of villagers. Walking past the remote villages of Karnataka, where accessibility is sometimes a great concern, a random hanging bridge is a sight for sore eyes.
There are 91 such villages in the state, they connect villages to their nearest destinations and the state joins its neighbors Kerala, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to narrate the legacy of India’s own ‘bridgeman’, Girish Bhardwaj.
The unassuming engineer was the recent recipient of the country’s highest award, the Padmashree. The 66 year old hails from a remote village of Sullia taluk in Mangalore. He is a graduate from PES college of Engineering in Mandya. Girish manages to build the structure of his bridges at one-tenth the cost of a conventional bridge. He takes a bewildering 3 months to complete each project as opposed to government projects that are better funded and equipped but still take up a lot of time.
Most of his projects are in the rural parts of the country and so far he has built 127 bridges. In 1975 he started a company in Sullia which was called Rational Engineering Industries. Today the company has been renamed as Ayasshilpa which is a steel fabrication workshop which also repairs farm machinery and also indulges in the construction of Gobar Gas Plants.
Girish says,’ In some places we had to halt the work due to lack of funds. In such cases I would utilize my contacts and connect the people to potential resources. Normally we get a warm welcome. IN some cases it takes time to break the ice. But we make it a point to involve the local people and ensure that they take ownership of the project. After all we want to bridge people and their dreams.”
Girish has a team of 30 people who are experts at Scudder Falls Bridge (SFB) Construction, who spend time in finding the remote regions and ideating a plan. While most of the villages are constructed with funds from the government schemes, the initiative is generally taken up by the community. Girish, over the last 3 decades, has built 91 bridges in Karnataka, 30 in Kerala and 3 each in Orissa and Andhra Pradesh. Nowadays Girish has the support of his son who is also looking to carry forward his father’s legacy.
Image source: News Karnataka