MANGALURU:As soon as it was announced that Dharmasthala Dharmadhikari D Veerendra Heggade has been chosen for the Padma Vibhushan on Sunday evening, the temple town witnessed festive moments.
Heggade was 21 when he took the responsibility as Dharmadhikari on October 24, 1968. Since then he has initiated various pro-people programmes, including conducting free mass marriages annually since 1972. He introduced a rural development project in the coastal district of Karnataka.
The project focuses on agriculture, women empowerment, housing, alternative sources of energy, income-generating activities, micro finance, education and health.
Heggade was conferred the Padma Bhushan for social work and communal harmony, Rajarshi Award, Karnataka Ratna Award and Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award among others.
When asked for his comments, Dr Heggade said: “I always feel happy when the work taken under my guidance, whether agriculture or poverty alleviation, is completed successfully. I, however, never feel this is my achievement. The glory should go to many of my colleagues who have worked with me shoulder to shoulder in realising the targets and achieve fruition of the programmes. I received Padma Bhushan in 2000. Now, the Padma Vibhushan has increased my responsibilities manifold.”