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The man who made Sagar a national treasure

M. Malleswara Rao



REMEMBER MGR?: Mir Jaffer Ali

HYDERABAD: Wearing dark glasses in true MGR style helped him work wonders with workers of Nagarjunasagar dam during its construction 50 years ago. The man who wore those distinct specs was none other than its first Chief Engineer Mir Jaffer Ali.

A massive workforce of 50,000 labourers and engineers could be seen at any point of time through long years of the construction. It was humanly impossible for any official to supervise the work. Jaffer Ali, however, accomplished the task with ease.

There comes `NTR'

He used to observe workers from his office-cum-residence overlooking the site, craning out from its window but invariably sporting the dark glasses. Everyone on the work site felt he was the target of his attention. The large workforce laboured for 15 years to give the dam its present shape. Jaffer Ali was called `NTR' for his resemblance to the matinee idol.

His statue is being unveiled at the dam on Saturday to mark its golden jubilee celebrations. A graduate of the Guindy Engineering College, Madras, Jaffer Ali was appointed Sagar's first Chief Engineer. He supervised its construction during eight crucial years when the dam rose up to a height of 450 ft from the foundation.

His family members recall that he used to go up to Pedavoora by jeep and reach the site, then a tiger-infested valley, on horseback. He hardly slept during this period, being busy right from 3 a.m. The much-needed respite came to him from meeting film stars like Sunil Dutt and Madhubala who shot films at locations in and around Sagar.

Jaffer Ali had earlier completed the Nizamsagar project, and, after retirement in 1963, drew sketches for Sriramsagar. He died at the age of 76 at his son's house at Hubli in Karnataka.

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