|John Pennycuick, British engineer, builder of |
The Mullaperiyar Dam,Tamil Nadu
|The Mullaperiyar Dam,Tamil Nadu. en.wikipedia.org|
John Pennycuick, born on 15 January,1841 at Pune, India was the son of one was Brigadier-General John Pennycuick and wife Sarah. He was educated at Cheltenham College.
Following his father's career, he joined the East India Company Military College at Addiscombe, Surrey in 1857 to serve in the Indian subcontinent and was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Madras Engineer Group in December, 1858. He gradually rose to the rank of Major in the British Army on 8 December,1876. His active participation in the Abyssinian campaign of 1868 won him accolades and, in recognition of his meritorious services, the Queen nominated him a Companion of the Order of the Star of India.
The unique, but very tough idea of diverting the westward flowing water of the Periyar river to connect the eastward flowing Vaigai river was first explored in 1789 by Pradani Muthirulappa Pillai, a minister of the Ramnad king Muthuramalinga Sethupathy, who gave it up as he found it to be expensive and difficult to implement. Later British engineer Captain J. L. Caldwell, after feasibility study in 1808, he too considered the project very expensive and was not worth trying. After several bottlenecks in 1882, the construction of the dam was approved and Major John Pennycuick, M.E., was placed in charge to prepare a revised project and estimate which was approved in 1884 by his superiors.
|The Mullaperiyar reservoir, Tamil Nadu. en.wikipedia. org.|
|Location Mullaiperiyar dam.www.frontline.in|
Undaunted and unmoved by the financial and geomorphological constrains, Pennycuick raised funds by selling his wife's jewelry to continue the work at any cost. A man with foresight and result oriented, he was sure that once the roadblocks were successfully tackled, the project would be a boon to thousands of people in the rain shadow, arid areas and thousands of acres would be put to use for agriculture purpose. It meant a good source of income for tens of thousands of people in that region.
The major hurdle of water diversion was successfully tackled and the dam was completed in 1895. The sad aspect of this project was that worker mortality from malaria was rather high. Further, the area was a dense jungle and there were inadequate access roads to reach the nearby towns for medical help. It was claimed that had it not been for "the medicinal effects of the native spirit called ''arrack,'' the dam might never have been finished. Natives in the villages used to drink arrack, a local brew. It gave them resistance against diseases.
Pennycuick worked in the Public Works Department till January, 1896 and during the span of six years, he was in charge of the construction of the Mullaperiyar Dam, an engineering marvel considering the limited technology available then . After the construction of this dam, a vast area came under irrigation finally, discharging 2000 cusecs of water into the Vaigai river for the arid rain shadow regions of present-day Theni, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu, then under the British rule as part of Madras Province (Sandes, 1935). It resulted in the irrigation of 2.23 lakh acres in this region. But for this humble, but spirited British engineer, the Mullai Periyar dam would not have come to fruition.
Pennycuick said: "I am going to be only once in this earthly world, hence I need to do some good deeds here. This deed should not be prorogued or ignored since I am not going to be here again".
In Southern Tamil Nadu, the people adore him and even a small kid knows his name. His name is synonymous with this famous, historical dam and the indomitable spirit with which he completed this project.
Nominated to the Madras Legislative Council in November 1893.
He was the last president of the Royal Indian Engineering College at Coopers Hill.
He also held the position of President of the Sanitary Board and was a faculty in the University of Madras.
He received a Telford medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers. The Australian government sought his advice for avoiding damage from flooding of the Brisbane river in 1899.
The Mullaperiyar Dam or Mullaiperiyar Dam, a masonry gravity dam on the Periyar River in the Indian state of Kerala is located at a height of 881 m (2,890 ft) above mean sea level, on the Cardamom Hills of the Western Ghats in Thekkady, Idukki District of Kerala, South India
It was built between 1887 and 1895 by John Pennycuick. It has a height of 53.6 m (176 ft) from the foundation, and a length of 365.7 m (1,200 ft).
Pennycuick used lime and surki paste for construction work, giving due consideration to the gravitational force and also the pressure exerted by a huge volume of stored water. The design was such that it could withstand tremors.
The dam was inaugurated by Lord Wenlock, the then Governor of the Madras Presidency.
The dam is located in Kerala on the river Periyar, but is being operated and maintained by Tamil Nadu state.
Though the Periyar River has a total catchment area of 5398 sq. km with 114 sq.km in Tamil Nadu, the catchment area of the Mullaperiyar Dam itself lies entirely in Kerala.
''Arrack'' also spelled 'arak,' is a distilled alcoholic drink typically produced in South Asia and Southeast Asia, made from either the fermented sap of coconut flowers, sugarcane, grain (e.g. red rice) or fruit, depending upon the country of origin. The clear distillate may be blended, aged in wooden barrels, or repeatedly distilled and filtered depending upon the taste and color objectives of the manufacturer. Arrack is not to be confused with arak, an anise-flavored alcoholic beverage traditionally consumed in Eastern Mediterranean and North African countries.
"The Mullaperiyar Conflict" (PDF). India: National Institute of Advanced Studies. 2010. p. 7. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
Sandes, Lt Col E.W.C. (1935). The Military Engineer in India, Vol II. Chatham: The Institution of Royal Engineers. pp. 28–29.
"Dams in Kerala". Kerala: ENVIS Kerala: Environmental Information System Centre (ENVIS), Kerala. p. 1. Retrieved 30 November 2011.[dead link]
Ministry of Water Resources (2 December 2011). "Mulla Periyar Dam issue". Govt. of India. Retrieved 6 December 2011.
"Mulla Periyar Dam issue". New Delhi: Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India. p. 1. Retrieved 30 November 2011.