Damn! (pardon the pun). You must be aware of the frequent "wars" that break out on either side of the Tamilnadu-Kerala border regarding the Mullaiperiyar dam. Politicians, tamil poets, Tamilians, Malayalees all get their tempers raised at this time and even the common man is not left alone with the media on both sides fanning the flames. But did you know that this dam was not even built by a government and that it was financed by a britisher who wanted to help out the people living in the cauvery basin? I came across this bit of information from Jacinth who had heard someone mention it on TV. More googling and I came across information mentioning that when the funds dried up for this british engineer and the government stopped funding the dam project, he found the plight of the people hard to take and went back to England to drum up some support. I even read that he sold his property and brought back what he could to finish the dam. And finish he did!! And alleviated the sufferings of the locals.
"Greater than the mother bearing child
Greater than the child that is born
Every breath is Periyar
Every word is Periyar
In every place, in all the world
As far as Periyar water flows
Your name will stand-Pennycuick-your name
Though written on water, will always stand."
That is how Anthony Muthu Pillai (1863-1929) had paid tributes in Tamil to John Pennycuick, the engineer who had taken up the "audacious and unprecedented feat of...engineering" for transferring some water from the Periyar river in Travancore State to the Vaigai basin in Madras Presidency. This basin was described by Poet Vairamuthu, who hails from this area: "It is a different world. Another planet on the surface of the earth. Ignored by the clouds, cursed by nature and dry land, passed by the Gods with their eyes tightly shut..."
That last part was from Wikipedias entry on the Vaigai Basin.
Damn, we don't even actually own the damned dam!