Chennai, Jan 15 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Saturday announced that the state government would build a statue of British Engineer Colonel John Pennycuick, the man who made the Mullaperiyar dam in a park in Camberly in the UK.
The Chief Minister made the announcement on the birthday of the British Engineer who has helped irrigate the water-starved districts of south Tamil Nadu.
Stalin in a statement said that he is extremely happy to announce the construction of the statue at Camberly in the UK and added that the Tamil diaspora in London has made efforts to install the statue in the hometown of Pennycuick.
The Chief Minister also said that the necessary permission to install the statue was received from the St. Peters Church as per the British laws.
Mullaperiyar dam, across the Periyar river in Kerala's Idukki district, was built in 1895 by John Pennycuick. The dam is owned by the Kerala government while it is operated and managed by the Tamil Nadu government.
'Pennycuick met the agriculture and drinking water requirements of the state especially the five southern districts of Tamil Nadu, Theni, Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Dindigul, and Sivaganga. People in their love and respect towards the British Engineer have named children after him and are holding him in high esteem with his birthday being celebrated along with Pongal celebrations,' the statement added.
Stalin said, '2.19 lakh acres of lands in these areas are irrigated due to the efforts of the great British Engineer and the Tamil Nadu government wanted to give him a fitting tribute and had decided to install his statue in his home town as a mark of love and respect towards him.'
Chief Minister also said that during the construction of the dam, the British government was unable to fund the project after a point and Pennycuick went to England, sold off his properties, and then funded the project on his own.
He said, 'Pennycuick built the dam with confidence, determination, perseverance, and boldness despite all obstacles.'
Chief Minister in the statement said, 'On the occasion of Pennycuicks birth anniversary, we assure that our government will make all effort to safeguard the rights of people of Tamil Nadu in Mullaperiyar which was built amid several challenges considering the longtime drinking water issues faced by the people of region.'
The Tamil Nadu government has been making 'persistent' efforts to raise the water storage level of the dam to 152 feet by approaching to various courts and commissions including the Madras High Court, Supreme Court of India, and the Central Water Commission.
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