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Varahanadi and






Vaigai and tribu-





M an j alar and tri-






Mid Vaigai.

Solavandan ...




Included in the first of these minor basins, that of Tiruman-
galam, is the Nilaiyur channeL which takes off from the Vaigai
below the Chittanai and supplies 5,998 acres directly or indirectly.

^ Compiled from particulars kindly furnished by M.R.Ry. A. V. Eama-
Jinga Aiyai, b.a., b.c.e., Executive Engineer of Madura district.


The land under this is tho only part of the district in which the cilAP. IV.
Voluntary Irrigation Cess is levied. Irrigation.

Connected with the Lower Grundar hasiu arc seven channels
from the Vaigai which are supplied by koramlnix, or temporary
dams made uf brushwood and earth which are renewed every

In the Palni minor hasin, all hut two of the channels have head
sluices. The most important of thom are the Aiyampalle anient
across the t'alar, which irrigates 3,8GG acres, and the Kottai dam
on the Varadamauadi or Varattar, which supplies 2,175 acres. It
is proposed to dam up tho Poraudalar river in this basin and
its tributary the Pachaiyar and to form a reservoir which would
incrcaso the supply in this area. The scheme, however, is a
protective rather than a productive project.

In the Dindigul minor basin, eight of the anicuts have head
sluices. The most important of them is the Attur dam, which
waters 9 13 acres.

In the Suruli minor basin the chief anicuts are the Uttamuttu,
Palaiyamparavu and Chinuamaniir dams, which irrigate respec-
tively 2,469, 2,451 and 1,GG6 acres. All but two of the anicuts in
this area have head sluices.

In the Periyakulam minor basin, on tho other hand, none
of the anicuts have any head works. The best of them, that at
Talattukovil, supplies 2,131 acres.

Irrigation from the Varahauadi in this tract \\ill shortly be
improved by the Berijam project recently sanctioned. The Berijam
swamp lies on the top of the Palnis about twelve miles south- west
of Kodaikanal at an elevation of 7,100 feet. It is about two
miles long, runs nearly north and south, and is situated on the
water-parting of the Falni range, so that the southern portion of it
drains into the Varahauadi and the northern into the Amaravati.
The project, which was first suggested by Col. Pennycuick, c.s.i.,
R.E.J in 18?57, consists in throwing dams across both ends of the
swamp and forming a reservoir with a capacity of 77^ million
cubic feet to increase the supply in the Varahauadi. The estimate
amounts to Rs. 54,500.

In the Andipatti minor basin lies the uppermost anient on the
Vaigai, that at Kunnur.

Of the anicuts in the Vattilagundu batin the chief is that at
A^'yampaiaiyam which supplies 971 acres.

In the Solavanddn minor basin are included the Tenkarrti
channel which takes of^ from the Chittanai dam across the Vaigai,




The Periyar

2^ miles below the Peranai, and supplies land on the south bank
of the river, and also several spring channels which are excavated
to tap the underflow in the same river.

Particulars similar to those in the above statement are not
available for the small area included in the basins of the Tiru-
mauimuttdr and Palar in Melur taluk, as this is only now 1)eing
examined by the Tank Restoration party. Madura was the first
district in which the Tank Restoration Scheme was begun, but the
Melur taluk was not finished at the sime time as the rest of it
because it was not then clear how much of it would be affected by
the Periyar project.

Tiie great Periyar project already several times referred to
consists, to state the matter very briefly, in damming the Pcriydr
('big river') which flows down the western slope of the Grhats,
through country possessing a superabundant rainfall, and turning
the water back, by a tunnel through the watershed, down the dry
eastern slope of the Ghats to irrigate the parched up plains on that
side of the range. According to Captain Ward's Survey Account
of 1815, the first person to suggest this schenre was Muttu Arula
Pillai, prime minister of the Pamnad liaja, who in 1798 sent
' twelve intelligent men ' to enquire into its possibility. They
reported in favour of it, but funds were lacking. In 1 808 Sir
James (then Captain) Caldwell, the District Engineer, reported,
after a cui'sory examination, that the scheme was impracticable.
The matter, however, continued to be discussed, and in 1867 it was
brought forward by Major EyveS; R.E., in a practical form. He
proposed to construct an earthen dam 162 feet high across the
Periyar and turn back the water down a cutting through the
watershed. His idea was merely to divert the river, and not to
store its waters. He estimated the cost of the matter at 17| lakhs.
From 1868 to 1870 Colonel (then Lieutenant) Pennycuick, R.E.,
and afterwards Mr. R. Smith, investigated the scheme and a com-
plete project, estimated to cost 54 lakhs, was drawn up which
involved important modifications of Major Ryves' proposals,
among them the transfer of the site of the dam to a point seven
miles lower down the river. I 'oubts arose as to the practicability
of constructing so huge an embankment of earth, and it was not
until l^SZ that Colonel Pennycuick's proposal to build a masonry
dam was accepted, and he was directed to revise the plans and
estimates for the whole project. The scheme he drew up included
a great masonry dam across the Periyar, a huge lake, and a tunnel
through the watershed. It was sanctioned in 1884 and work was
begun late in 1887. The estimate for direct charges was 62 lakhs.


The site of the dam and lake are in Travaneore territory and it CHAP.I7.
was agreed that the British Grovernment should pay an annual Irrigation.
rent of Rs. 40,000 for a certain specified area and certain defined
rights, and that the lease sho'ild run lor 999 years with the option
of renewal. Sovereign rights over the tract were reserved by the
'JVavancore State.

The immense difficulties which arose and were overcome during
the actual construction of the great project are detailed in the
History of the Periijdr Project (Madras Government Press, 1899)
by Mr. A. T. Mackenzie, one of the Engineers who helped to
carry it through. The site of the works was an unhealthy
jungle 3,000 feet in elevation, where rain and malaria rendered
work impossible for a considerable portion of the year, where even
unskilled labour was unobtainable, and to which every sort of plant
and nearly all material had to be transported at great cost from
a railway 76 miles off and up a steep ghat road. A canal was
constructed from the top of the ghat to the site of the dam to meet
this latter difficulty, and later an overhead wire ropeway, driven by
a turbine, was put np from the foot of the ghat to the head of the
canal. The difficulty of laying the foundations for a dam in a
river of such magnitude (the discharge is equal to half the average
flow of Niagara) and liable to such sudden and heavy freshes (one
of these registered 120,000 cusecs) was immense, and at first
the work was swept away again and again. The ope ations were
described by the Chief Knginoer, Col. Pennycuiek, as the most
anxious, difficult and exhausting of any which had come within his
experience. After the foundations were all in. further immense
difilcvdty occurred in passing the ordinary flow of the river and the
constant high freshes without damage to the masonry of the dam.
After many expedients had been tried, this was eventually
effected through a tunnel or culvert in the body of the dam itself,
which was afterwards closed and plugged. On the left of the dam
a stnaller extension 2"21 feet long was built to close a di)) in the
ground, and an escape 434 feet in length was made on the right.
The main dam was practically finished by October 18i'5. Includ-
iug the parapets, it is 1 7o feet above the bed of the river, 1,241
feet long, 144 feet 6 inches wide at the bottom and 12 feet wide
at the top. The front and rear walls are of rubble masonry and
the interior is filled with concrete in surki mortar. The lake
impounded by it covers moro than 8,000 acres and has a maxi-
mum possible depth of 17G feet.

The passage through the watershed consists of an open cutting
or approach 5,342 feet long, a tunnel 5,704 feet long', and another


CHAP. IV open cutting or debouchure 500 feet long-. The approach is 21 feet
Irrigation, wide. The tunnel is 1 2 feet wide by 7|- feet high and has a
gradient of I in 75. It was all blasted through solid rock,
machine drills driven by compressed air supplied by a turbine
plant being employed. A sluice-gate (Stoney's patent) at the
head of it controls the outflow. From the lower end of it the
water hurls itself down the face of the hill into a stream called
the Vairavandr, w hence it flows into the Suruli and thence into
the Vaigai. It has long been suggested that the great head
obtainable at the outfiill, 900 feet in a length of 6,800 feet, might
be Titilised for driving turbines for the generation of electricity.
One difRculty is that the water is only required for irrigation for
nine or ten months in the year, whereas for any scheme for the
production of electrical power on commercial lines it would need to
be passed through the tunnel all the year round. The waste of
water which this would involve could, however, be obviated by the
construction of a reservoir on the plains, below the outfall and the

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