Construction of dam in Kerala
Periyar river is a river in Kerala which flows westwards into the Arabian sea. The western districts of Tamil Nadu were, however, lacking water; there was barely any water resource available for irrigation and drinking water. One British engineer, Pennycuick, felt if the river could be diverted, it could feed the agricultural and drinking needs of large areas of erstwhile Madras state. Pennycuick decided to construct a dam across the river that can divert water into the water-barren areas which were dependent only on Vaigai river. The dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar, but is owned, operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu state.
Battle against nature
Pennycuick and other British engineers decided to construct the Mullaiperiyar dam despite nature’s wrath. They had to brave the fury of poisonous insects and wild animals and the construction works were disrupted by relentless rain. However, the British government did not sanction sufficient funds for the construction of the dam, yet, Pennyquick never gave up. To get additional funds, he went to England and sold his family property to mobilise money to fund the project.
The dam acted as a saviour
The Dam has resulted in reported irrigation of 2.23 lakh acres in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga, Ramanathapuram districts besides providing them with sufficient drinking water. Pennycuick used lime and surki paste for construction, taking into consideration the gravitational force: this allows the dam to withstand tremors and remain strong. Theni and Madurai districts in Tamilnadu have forever remembered this British Engineer with much love and respect.