With a view to commemorating the services of Kongu chieftain Kalingarayan, who was a pioneer in interlinking of rivers for enhancing irrigation facilities in Erode district, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday announced the construction of a memorial for him at Anai Naasuvampalayam and developing the Kalingarayan dam area as a tourist spot.
Over 700 years ago, Lingaiyan alias Kalingarayan raised a canal linking Bhavani and Noyyal rivers, both tributaries of the Cauvery, to provide water for irrigation to 15,743 acres of land in Erode district.
After becoming the chieftain of Pandiya Naadu, he had planned to convert the dry lands into wet lands and built this canal and a dam which are named after him.
People in the area had made representations with her for construction of a memorial to him, the Chief Minister said in a statement.
Though it was sufficient to lay a 32-km canal to connect Bhavani and Noyyal rivers, Kalingarayan built the canal for a stretch of 56 miles so that a large extent of lands could get irrigation facilities and damage could be prevented to the river banks due to seasonal floods. Since the banks of the canal have been built with kaarai (lime plaster) and have many curves, locals call this as Kaarai Vaaikkal and Kona Vaikkal.
The Chief Minister recalled that the AIADMK government had been honouring those who had built dams for expanding irrigation. Already, a memorial had been raised in Theni district for the British engineer Colonel Pennycuick who built the Mullaiperiyar dam, which has stood the vagaries of time for more than a century. Works are also on for a memorial for Chola King Karikal Peruvalathan, who built the Grand Anaicut.