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20 Feb 2020, Edition - 1682, Thursday

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Coimbatore Day – remembering Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar who brought Siruvani waters to quench city thirst

Prasath Selvaraj

It is Coimbatore Day today, 213 years after the city was elevated to be the district headquarters. And on this day people need to honour Diwan Bahadur CS Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar who brought the Siruvani waters to its people.

Historian CR Elagovan, who has authored the book `Siruvani – Kovaiyin Kudineer’ told The Covai Post that people living in the city should remember Diwan Mudaliar as it was his efforts as member and later chairman of the municipal corporation in the early part of the 20th Century that brought drinking water to the city in April 1929.

When people living in Coimbatore faced acute water scarcity and diseases like cholera, malaria and plague took a heavy toll on lives, Diwan Mudaliar led a team along with British engineers to the forests to assess the flow of the Siruvani stream from the Muthikulam Falls. That was way back in 1920. He used all his influence to make a proposal to the Madras Presidency for bringing Siruvani waters to Coimbatore and establishing a hydro power station.

Once the plan got the nod from the presidency authorities, he launched the work to build a check dam in the area to collect the water from the Siruvani into which water flowed from Muthikulam Falls and the streams of Pattiar and Paambar. Water from the Siruvani dam would have to be brought through tunnels.

The flow was not all that smooth as heavy rain in 1928 damaged the power station though the tunnels remained intact. This explains why hydro power stations were later set up at Kunda and Pykara in the Nilgiris, said Elangovan.

After the long struggle, Coimbatore finally got water from the Siruvani in April 1929 and the people were said to have celebrated the day when showering petals on the taps from which water trickled.

The residential area Rathinasabapathy Puram, commonly known as R S Puram, connected with Mettupalayam Road Extension and Thadagam Road Extension in the city is named after the Diwan Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar. Even during his funeral procession, people sprinkled the waters of Siruvani and not flowers, Elangovan says.

Diwan Mudaliar’s efforts have their roots in the first documented proposal given at the end of the 19th Century by journalist, writer and philanthropist SP Narasimmalu Naidu to link water from Muthikulam Falls with the Noyyal river.

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