Meet Udupi’s own Aqua Man

For 20 years, day or night, Eshwar Malpe has dived into dangerous waters to help people of the district

Published: 03rd October 2021 05:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2021 05:57 AM   |  A+A-

Eshwar Malpe gets ready for an underwater mission

Express News Service

UDUPI: Udupi artfully embraces the vastness of the Arabian Sea, with several rivers and rivulets sketching its landscape. Water comes as second nature for the people of this picturesque coastal district, and with it, the many perils of losing footing or even drowning. And during these bleak moments, in dives Eshwar Malpe, who has rescued about 20 people from drowning and retrieved 200 bodies of those who unfortunately couldn’t make it.

 A supplier of potable water to fishing boats, 45-year-old Eshwar is a self-taught underwater search and recovery expert. A godsend, his selfless timely acts of courage have offered a new lease of life to those who were otherwise doomed to a watery grave.

Residing near Malpe beach with his mother, wife and three children, Eshwar has never turned down any SOS calls any time of the day. “They call me in distress and I immediately head out. My wife has always been supportive and respects my drive to help others,” he tells The New Sunday Express.

Fit as a fiddle, the man can hold his breath underwater for three minutes. Until very recently, Eshwar used to retrieve bodies without an oxygen kit. He has also rescued people trapped in swirling rapids and those on the verge of suicide. In a district endowed with good rainfall, leaving rivers in spate a few times a year, Eshwar’s task becomes all the more critical. With fewer lifeguards, even the police dial him when they need to look for people missing in water bodies.

‘It’s praiseworthy’
Appreciating Eshwar’s work, Malpe Police Sub-Inspector Shakthivelu says, “He treats helping others as his duty. His service to society is praiseworthy.” In a span of two decades, Eshwar has undertaken several death-defying missions.

He recalls an incident during the lockdown, when an Udupi-based hotel owner suffered losses and jumped into a river near Manipura-Udyavara. Eshwar received a phone call around 3am and rushed to the scene in minutes. It was pitch dark. With his senses alert, Eshwar noticed him trapped under a stone and dragged him to safety.

In another incident 10 years ago, Eshwar had saved a girl pursuing SSLC, who had jumped into the sea near Malpe. Having failed her exams, she had decided to end her life. In yet another feat, Eshwar saved two deep-sea fishing trawlers adrift on the sea. The anchored boats were let loose after massive waves snapped the ropes which tethered them to shore. Eshwar, who earlier captained a fishing boat, found the trawlers near an estuary. With a friend’s help, he saved both vessels from sinking.

Today, Eshwar receives calls seeking help to trace dead bodies, from places as far away as Gangolli, Karwar and Thadadi. Most of his operations involve two oxygen cylinders donated by Malpe Yantrika Society. He, however, expects someone to sponsor an oxygen refilling kit costing Rs 1.25 lakh. “If I get the kit, my job will become easier as I can prolong my operation,” he remarks.

Despite difficulties at home, with his three children disabled from birth, money has never swayed him. “I am not in it for the money. I want God’s blessings and at least my four-yearold daughter Brahmi, who is in a better condition than my two other kids, to walk,” he prays. A man on a mission for years, Eshwar underwent specialised scuba diving training in Kaup to heighten the precision and technicality of his task. With his resolve afloat, he’s ready to dive in again.

Two decades of dedication

20 people rescued from drowning

200 bodies retrieved from the riverbed



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  • Jagadeesha M

    Dear Sir
    3 months ago reply
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