The first sand sluice constructed during British era for easy removal of silt and to ensure free flow of water was found abandoned in Thanjavur. Following the finding of the age-old facility, activists have urged the government to renovate and revive it as the structure is also considered to be an engineering marvel.
After the East India Company took control of the then composite Thanjavur in 1799 from the Maratha rulers, they had found that the irrigation system in the region was in a pathetic condition, which was also a key reason for frequent breaches in the Cauvery. So, the East India Company decided to find a solution to the problem and sought the expertise of the British engineers. Subsequently, they strengthened the banks of the Cauvery and planned to construct sand sluices in four places. Thus the British service personnel Major Sim started to construct the sand sluices in the Cauvery with outlets into Kollidam as part of the plan to prevent accumulation of silt in the upper reaches.
“Though he constructed two against the planned four, the sluice at Achanur-Vadugakudi alone has been found and that too is in a dilapidated condition,” said N Premasayee, historian and Tiruvaiyaru Bharathi Movement Trustee.
He said that there were six kanmoi (tank) below the sluice and six more above the sluice which had failed to serve the purpose in due course of time and references to these kanmois could be found in the Tamil Sangam Literature.
“Though the sand sluices were constructed during the British era, the Tamils who were experts in water management could have drafted the plan. Thus it becomes historically important one and so the Thanjavur administration should initiate steps to revive this ancient structure and declare it as historical monument,” said M Gunaranjan, historian.