MADURAI: Farmers from various parts of Theni district and its surroundings paid a visit to the memorial of John Pennycuick, a British engineer, who was instrumental in constructing the Mullaiperiyar dam to end drought in the southern region, at Lower Camp in the district on Monday.
They garlanded the statue of Col Pennycuick to mark his 182nd birth anniversary at the memorial.
Scores of villagers from Palarpatty of Bodinayakanur union in Theni district celebrated Pongal to mark the occasion. The villagers took out a procession along with adorned bulls from Palarpatty bus stand and performed folk arts before garlanding the Colonel’s portrait.
Minister for Rural Development I Periyasamy and AIADMK coordinator O Panneerselvam were among those who paid tributes on the occasion.
Minister Periyasamy said the Colonel quenched the thirst of people in southern districts and his birth anniversary was being celebrated as a government function from 2020. He said that the Tamil Nadu government would strive for raising the storage level in Mullaiperiyar dam to 152 ft.
After paying tributes, OPS said the Mullaiperiyar dam serves as a vital source of water for five southern districts of Tamil Nadu and as many as two lakh acres of farmlands were being irrigated by the dam.
Under former CM J Jayalalithaa’s regime, the memorial was erected in honour of Col Pennycuick and a new bus stand in Theni was named after this British era engineer, OPS said and added that the Kerala government could not construct any dam as an alternative to the Mullaiperiyar dam without the consent of the Tamil Nadu government.