Cyclone Tauktae effect in Kodagu: Water flows above danger mark in many bridges
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Cyclone Tauktae effect in Kodagu: Water flows above danger mark in many bridges

May 17, 2021

Bethri Bridge just 1-ft above water; main part of Mapillethodu Bridge caves in

Madikeri: Intermittent rains have been lashing Kodagu District since the last three days owing to cyclone Tauktae. While it rained heavily on Saturday showing signs of continued spell for the next three to four days, the intensity petered out last evening and today there is a break. 

Many rivers are flowing in full spate and the main Bethri Bridge at Bethri village that links Madikeri and Virajpet is flowing near the danger mark. If rains continue, there is a threat of the bridge submerging. Local residents said that the bridge is just one feet above the water level. 

The Kadanoor Bridge is also near-submersion and River Cauvery is flowing under the bridge in full force as in many regions, the rain that started on Friday night continued till Sunday morning. The small bridge at Balamuri village connecting Napoklu-Bethu-Balamuri is about to be submerged near Yethukadavu. A new bridge has, however, been built here at a cost of Rs. 45 lakh. 

Interestingly, in 2011, Bollywood actress Hema Malini had released Rs. 20 lakh to build the bridge as she was impressed by the beauty of the place and also realised the need for building a new bridge. Though the money was released in 2011, the bridge was inaugurated only in 2018. 

A portion of Balamuri-Parane Road near Napoklu has caved in following rains.

Bountiful rain

Madikeri, Bhagamandala, Talacauvery, Virajpet, Napoklu, Karike, Kakkabbe, Srimangala, Kutta, Murnad, Shettigeri, Kunda and Gonikoppal, Chembebellur, Nadikeri, Besagoor, Devanageri, Balele, Karmad, Nittoor, Thithimathi, Devamachhi, Ammathi, Ontiyangadi, Bittangala, Arji, Makutta, Perumbadi, Betoli and Heggala experienced bountiful rainfall. With the continuous rainfall, water level in streams and rivulets too has increased. 

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The District Administration has directed those residing on the banks of the river at Karadigodu and Guhya to move to safer locations. While some residents have moved to safe places, some are waiting for the District Administration to set up relief centres for them to move. This is an annual affair as the residents have refused to move from the river banks even when the administration has provided them land in other places. 

Lack of connectivity

Two houses in Suntikoppa Gram Panchayat have been damaged. Trees have been uprooted in various locations and the power supply was snapped in some villages. While the personnel from Chamundeshwari Electricity Company (CESC) have formed teams to restore many power lines that have snapped due to tree fall, several areas witnessed internet connectivity problems. 

Those working from home had to face this problem and lack of support from the service providers due to lockdown, worsened the scenario. At several places including Gonikoppal and Ponnampet, the main feeder line was under repairs and the towns faced frequent disconnections. 

The old and new bridge connecting Napoklu with Balamuri.

Bridge caves in

Virajpet taluk received 126.8 mm rainfall till Sunday morning. And the Virajpet Town Panchayat will open a relief centre at Government Model Primary School in Chikpet. The main part of Mapillethodu Bridge on Ponnampet-Srimangala-Kutta inter-State Highway caved in due to an increase in the flow of water. The bridge caved in a portion where the concrete and mud joined. 

The bridge work was being carried out for the past one year and was recently completed. While the engineers said that heavy rain and gushing of water caused the damage, local villagers allege that the important connecting bridge was not built as per standard and that is the reason why it caved in so soon. 

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The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre has released a forecast yesterday that scattered to fairly widespread very light to moderate rains with isolated heavy rains associated with thunderstorms likely over Chikkamagalur, Kodagu, Shivamogga and Hassan districts. Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Hassan, Kodagu, Chikkamagalur and Shivamogga districts have been given Yellow alert by India Meteorological Department. 

According to the rainfall data at Krishi Vigyan Kendra Gonikoppal, 2.46 inches (62 mm) rain has been recorded and the total rainfall in 2021 till date is 10.43 inches (265 mm). Athur Farm recorded 3.26 inches (83 mm).

In 1955, Lal Bahadur Shastri inaugurated Bethri Bridge

While there are other routes to connect Virajpet and Madikeri, the road via Bethri Bridge, built 66 years ago, provides the shortest travel distance. The foundation stone for Bethri Bridge was laid on March 29, 1953 by Colonel O.S. Bedi, IPS, the then Chief Commissioner of Coorg. It was inaugurated by the then Union Minister for Transport and Railways Lal Bahadur Shastri on May 29, 1955. Coorg was a ‘C’ State at that time.

According to Kiggal G. Hareesh, a local resident, the bridge is one of the oldest bridges constructed after independence. When Lal Bahadur Shastri was in Coorg for the inauguration of bridge, he had visited the ancestral house of Kambiranda family and had a cup of coffee with snacks. Apparanda Thimmaiah’s Mercedes Benz car was the first vehicle to move along the bridge after the inauguration.

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