Col. Pennycuick, a British Army engineer, was instrumental in the construction of the Mullaperiyar dam; TN govt to seek permission from UK to put up statue at his birthplace

The Tamil Nadu government will install a statue of Col. Pennycuick in Camberley, United Kingdom, the birthplace of the British Army Engineer, who was instrumental in constructing the Mullaperiyar reservoir, said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. K. Stalin on Saturday.

Marking the birth anniversary of the late architect of the reservoir, Mr. Stalin said that the government would take steps to install the statue at the city’s central park, after obtaining necessary permission from the UK government.

A press release further said that the people of Tamil Nadu, particularly, those in Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram districts, would always remember and cherish Col. Pennycuick, as the visionary’s grit and determination to build the dam in the year 1895 had resulted in farmers carrying out cultivation on over 2 lakh acres of land. Apart from this, the Mullaperiyar reservoir has also been a prime source of drinking water in the region.

Statue in Madurai

As a mark of respect, late Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had unveiled Col. Pennycuick’s statue at the Public Works Department campus in Tallakulam, Madurai on January 15, 2000. Subsequently, the TN government built a memorial (manimandapam) at Gudalur, Lower Camp in Theni district and also installed a life-size statue of Pennycuick.

A majority of the people in Theni, as a show of respect, celebrated Pongal on Jan 15 coinciding with the birth anniversary of Col. Pennycuick by making sweet Pongal in front of the memorial and by garlanding the statue. The newly-built bus stand in Theni was also named after Col. Pennycuick. Some of the newborns in Theni and surrounding towns, were also named after the Colonel, and he he has remained a household name and relevant, even today.

The TN government would protect the interests of the farmers in southern Tamil Nadu, Mr. Stalin said in the press release.

Due to the pandemic, the Theni district administration and the police had appealed to farmers and association leaders not to crowd at the memorial. As a token gesture, very few representatives were given permission to garland the statue, an official at the memorial said.

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