Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday announced the names of the recipients of nine awards instituted by the State government in memory of great Tamil scholars and leaders.
The awards that carry a cheque of Rs 1 lakh, a one-sovereign gold medal and a citation, will be handed over to the recipients by the Chief Minister at a function to be held at Lower Camp in Theni district on January 15. The function will also mark the inauguration of a memorial for John Pennycuick, the British engineer who built the Mullaiperiyar dam.
As a fitting tribute to Pennycuick, who embarked on the dam project against all odds and completed it in 1895 — bringing water to the districts of Theni, Dindigul, Madurai, Sivaganga and Ramanathapuram — Jayalalithaa announced the construction of the memorial on January 2, 2012.
Built at a cost of Rs 1.25 crore, the memorial at the premises of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board at Lower Camp in Theni district near Tamil Nadu-Kerala border would be declared open on his 172nd birth anniversary on January 15.
If not for the Mullaiperiyar dam, which blocks the waters of west-flowing rivers and diverts them through a canal bored through the Western Ghats into Tamil Nadu, the southern districts would have turned barren long ago.
Pennycuick is an icon in the districts that benefited from his vision and perseverance and many people here have been named after him. His picture still adorns several homes in these parts.