Mangaluru, Feb 11, 2019: Vandals, allegedly from the sand mafia, who damaged portions of the make-shift steel-cum-wooden footbridge, connecting Pavoor-Uliya Kudru with the mainland, could not deter the spirit of the residents who got the bridge restored immediately.
While about 40 families with the help of the local Parish did get this somewhat safe footbridge in the last week of January by pooling in about Rs. 18 lakh, portions of it were damaged by vandals soon thereafter.
The residents had been fighting the sand mafia which indiscriminately extracted sand from the Coastal Regulation Zone of Netravathi threatening their very existence.
Glen D’Souza, a youth from the island who works in a private firm at B.C. Road, told The Hindu during a visit that the residents with the help of local Pavoor Gram Panchayat and Minister U.T. Khader got new wooden planks for the paver and rebuilt the damaged steel pipe scaffolding to support them.
“At least during non-monsoon days, we can safely cross the river with the help of this bridge,” Mr. D’Souza said.
Parish Priest of Infant Jesus Chapel/Church on the island Cap. Jerald Lobo said that the residents wanted at least a concrete footbridge, if not a wider structure. However, the government authorities have been promising a hanging bridge, which is yet to become a reality.
The island is inhabited by 40 families — 39 Roman Catholic and one Hindu — which entirely depend upon the mainland for their livelihood and education. While the residents used to erect wooden footbridges soon after the monsoon earlier to reach Adyar on National Highway 75, they longed for a safer one. During the monsoon, boats were the only available option to the residents.
With no help forthcoming from the authorities concerned despite repeated pleas, residents along with the Parish pooled in Rs. 18 lakh to erect the 750-ft-long footbridge with steel pipe scaffolding and wooden planks for the pathway.
It took almost two months to fabricate the structure and place it appropriately after gauging the water levels during high-tides and low-tides.
The river course has become too deep closer to the island thanks to indiscriminate sand excavation and lengthy pipes had to be used there.
“This is not a permanent solution and residents want at least a concrete footbridge,” said Cap. Lobo.