Bridge across Sharavathi

Molkodu is a hamlet in Uttara Kannada district with a population of 3,500. The Sharavathi river separates Molkodu and Idagunji rivers. Residents of Molkodu, used to ferrying across the river by boat, have now built a bridge across the Sharavathi. Under normal circumstances, Molkodu residents lead a contented life, busy with their paddy, coconut, and areca crops, but when the Sharavathi is in flood, the hamlet becomes an island. Villagers here had always wanted to build a bridge across the river, so that there is some form of communication and transport in times of a flood. The Sri Kshetra Dharmsthala’s Rural Development Scheme came to their aid.

Molkodu is a half-an-hour’s walk from the Idagunji temple. But to reach Molkodu, one needs to get hold of a boat. Only one boat is available, and people have to wait for hours to ferry across the river. Also, the boatsmen are wary of rowing people across after sunset. A bridge was just what these villagers wanted.

A dream come true

Today, their dream has come true. As many as 150 people from various self-hep groups got together, and brought stones, sand and other construction material by boat from Honnavar. They then built a bridge without the help of any big machinery, or iron and cement. The bridge was funded by the Dharmasthala Rural Development Scheme, under the community participation project. The scheme fetched Rs 50,000 while the Idagunji temple and other donors pitched in with a total of Rs 85,000.

Works which would have cost at least Rs 5 lakh, if government schemes had to be relied on, have now been completed by the villagers themselves. The bridge is a great advertisement for community participation, and involvement.

Molkodu’s Gopal Gowda led from the front to take the project to its logical conclusion. One day, when he couldn’t get the boatman to ferry him across the river, Gopal Gowda resolved to get a bridge built. He went about doing it too, by forming a Trust, comprising 12 members. They then tried to draw the attention of the government towards their demands. The government, however, did not respond.

When the Linganamakki reservoir is full, the extra water floods Molkodu village, which becomes an island. There were times, when the water from the reservoir was let out, without prior information to villagers. Most students here have to travel to Honnavar, Bhatkal and other nearby towns to study. The hamlet has two anganwadis and three primary schools. But, there are no other basic amenities like a hospital, or a pharmacy in the village.

The villagers depend on the government doctor who comes visiting once a week. When the Sharavathi’s waters eat into the land every year, the villagers struggle to take their agricultural produce to nearby towns. In spite of all that they are faced with, the residents are also not eager to relocate to other villages and towns in the vicinity.

Bridge brings change

But, the bridge has changed a lot of things for residents of Molkodu. Two-wheelers have started plying on the bridge. But, there is still fear about a part of the bridge that has been flooded because of recent rain. The villagers now plan to increase the height of the bridge by another three feet with stones to make it stronger.
If only the government pitches in now, things will be a lot more easy for residents of Molkodu.

(Translated by Savitha Karthik)

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