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Fit case for World Heritage status

Syed Muthahar Saqaf


DMK MP N. Siva had sought the heritage status in the Rajya Sabha last week


— Photo: M. Srinath

MODEL for ENGINEERS: Water gushing out from Grand Anaicut bordering Tiruchi, built during the first century.

TIRUCHI: The country’s attention has been drawn to the historic Grand Anicut, popularly known as ‘Kallanai’ (stone dam), as an apt case for World Heritage status.

A forceful plea was made in the Rajya Sabha last week by N. Siva, DMK MP, hailing from Tiruchi, to throw its weight behind Kallanai’s listing as a ‘World Heritage’ site by virtue of it being an engineering marvel. Built by Chola King Karikalan during the first century, the dam is one of the oldest water diversions or water regulating structures in the world in use.

Though a large number of tourists, engineers and historians visit this tourist spot, the importance of the Anicut and its historical background are less known. Built on the river Cauvery, it is a massive dam built with uneven stones to the length of 329 metres and width of 20 metres across the main stream of the river.

Mr. Siva had quoted Clause (iv) of the selection criteria of the heritage site : “to be an outstanding example of a type of building, architectural or technological ensemble or landscape which illustrates a significant state in human history.”

The main objective of constructing the dam was to divert water across the fertile delta region for irrigation via canals. The dam is seen as a model for engineers across the world. Sir Arthur Cotton’s 19th century dam across river Coleroon (Kollidam), the major tributary of Cauvery, is stated to be a replication.

The area irrigated by the ancient irrigation network of which the dam was the centrepiece was 69,000 acres. By the early 20th century, the irrigated area had been increased to about one million acres.

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