‘Bridgeman’ Girish Bharadwaj honoured with ‘Dr Shivarama Karanth Huttoora’ Award
Mangaluru: Girish Bharadwaj builds suspension bridges that connect isolated villages with opportunity and link them to the future. A Mechanical Engineer, Ist class, 1973 batch, P.E.S. College of Engineering, Mandya- Girish Bharadwaj on father’s directive set up a workshop in Sullia to repair farm machinery.Girish Bharadwaj’s story would have ended there, if Forest Officer Narayan had not been transferred from Sullia to Kushalnagar. “Can you connect an island (Nisargadham) in Cauvery to mainland?” he asked GB one day. It was a 50 m span and there were big trees on both sides. With help from a friend who had seen the Lakshman Jhoola, GB arranged to hang a pathway of wooden slats from wire ropes with steel rods as suspenders. “There was no design,” he said. “Only trial and error.”
He was the knight who would lead them out of isolation. “I asked for time, referred to books and decided on a suspension footbridge,” he said. “You know, I got my inspiration studying the Golden Gate!” Villagers in India are made of steely stuff. “Make it low-cost,” they said and went house to house raising money. When he rolled his machinery to the site, 40 volunteers waited with building material. Wooden planks stood stacked. Women served snacks and tea. Two months later, in August 1989, GB’s first, self-designed suspension footbridge, three feet wide, stood inviting. He became the local hero.
Girish Bharadwaj, popularly known as the Bridgeman of India, said that no service is more precious than humanity. He was speaking after receiving the prestigious Dr Shivarama Karanth Huttoora Prashasthi (award) instituted by the Dr Shivarama Karanth Huttoora Prashasthi Prathistana at Kota Shivarama Karanth Theme Park at Kota on Sunday, 10 October 2021.
“I have worked extensively, but what matters the most in life is humanity and love. Unfortunately, many talents in villages of our nation go unnoticed and unappreciated,” he lamented. Recalling his experience in Maoist-affected villages in the 1980s, Bharadwaj said, “Any individual, who turns brutal in life, maybe brought back to the mainstreams of the society through love and affection.”
On his adoration for noted writer Shivarama Karanth, Bharadwaj said that the multifaceted personality has shown the world the righteous path through his works.
Social welfare and backward classes welfare minister Kota Shrinivas Poojari said that there are plans before the government to set up a memorial at the place where writer Shivarama Karanth was cremated.
Bharadwaj from Sullia of Dakshina Kannada, who is credited with building nearly 140 low-cost suspension bridges across rivers and streams for rural connectivity, was selected for the award considering his contributions to the welfare of rural people. The award committee has been honouring achievers considering their contributions in their respective fields by conferring the award from the past 16 years.
Noted writer Dr S L Bhyrappa, progressive farmer Kavitha Mishra, Yakshagana artist Chittani Ramachandra Hegde, actor Prakash Rai, journalist Ravi Belagere, former union minister M Veerappa Moily, and others were honoured with the award in the past.