ANDHRA PRADESH

No documentary on Sir Arthur Cotton

B.V.S. Bhaskar

Dowleswaram (Rajahmundry): The engineering prowess of Sir Arthur Cotton during the 1850s had given everlasting boon to farmers of Godavari and Krishna delta, which are called rice bowls of Andhra Pradesh. Born on May 15, 1803, the ‘Apara Bhageeratha’ had a museum and some 3,000 statues all over East and West Godavari districts. However, the Engineering Department of Dowleswaram Barrage had no vision or never felt about having a documentary to be kept in historic Cotton Museum here for display for the benefit of visitors.

The tomb of Cotton’s daughter, who died during the construction of the bridge, due to snakebite was kept near Chitrangi guesthouse in Rajahmundry is in a dilapidated condition.

The guesthouse on Bommuru hilltop, the place where Sir Arthur Cotton took rest during the construction of work is also neglected on the grounds of owning the responsibility that means whether it should be owned by Tourism or Information or R and B or Archaeology or Engineering Head Works Department of Dowleswaram.

“It is shameful on the part of the engineering wing of Dowleswaram that they failed to take a documentary on Cotton till now. There are a number of film personalities from this district, who failed to think about a documentary on ‘Annadata’ (who fed farmers),” says Sannidhanam Narasimha Sarma.

Ryots’ tribute

However, every year on May 15, the farmers of East Godavari, several leaders of the district pay homage to the great engineer. In Dulla village of Kadiyam mandal, ‘Abhishekam’ with milk is performed to Sir Arthur Cotton’s gold-coated bronze statue by a progressive farmer Bhaskar Reddy.

The greatest thing after the demise of Sir Arthur Cotton is that, the farmers of Konaseema leave ‘Tharpanam’ (homage through Hindu ritual) to him by chanting a sloka. In each irrigation office in this delta area, a photograph of Cotton is kept, under which there would be this sloka, dedicated to the great engineer.

“The magnitude of the work , the quickness of execution and the productivity of engineers working in the 1850s can best be realised when juxtaposed with similar works executed after technological advances, mechanisation, modern management practices and improved communication facilities,” writes A. Krishnaswamy, IAS Special Administrator, Sir Arthur Cotton Barrage, in his foreword to the 1987 reprint of the monograph ‘The Engineering Works of the Godavari Delta’ by George T. Walch, retired chief engineer for irrigation, Madras, published in 1896.