Saluting Sir Arthur Cotton

B.V.S. Bhaskar

Born on May 15, 1803, he is still revered by many a farmer

The ‘Apara Bhageeratha’ envisaged Polavaram long time back, say officials

But for his efforts, the region would have been in the grip of drought, it is said

Rajahmundry: Polavaram or Indira Sagar, a major irrigation project proposed across the Godavari, may be facing hurdles. But, it was envisaged by Sir Arthur Cotton, father of the Godavari Barrage, long time ago.

Born on May 15, 1803, Sir Arthur Cotton still enjoys the pride of place in the hearts of the people of East and West Godavari districts.

Known as ‘Apara Bhageeratha’, he had sacrificed his life for providing irrigation water to thousands of farmers in the two districts, which are now called the rice bowl of Andhra Pradesh. Sir Arthur Cotton had done much for the nation, particularly for the farmers of delta areas.

Storage reservoir

During the construction of the barrage across the Godavari, Sir Arthur Cotton struck upon the idea of constructing a storage reservoir at Purushottamapatnam in the 1850s. This is where the State government plans to construct the Polavaram project.

“We have records in the Cotton Museum underlining the need for a storage tank for the Dhawaleswaram Barrage that could be constructed near Purushottamapatnam, which is at the mouth of Sripada Sagar,” said M. Venkateswara Rao, Chief Engineer of the Indira Sagar project.

There are some 3,000 statues of Sir Arthur Cotton in the two districts, which reflect the popularity he enjoys among farmers.

“Now, we see much water going waste into the sea. But for the engineering prowess of Sir Arthur Cotton, this region would have been in the grip of drought,” said Bhaskar Reddy of Dulla village in Kadiam constituency. Mr. Reddy performs ‘abhishekam’ with milk to the bronze statue of Sir Arthur Cotton he put up in front of his house.

Irrigation offices in this delta area remember Sir Cotton by putting a photograph and a poem dedicated to the great engineer under it.

“The magnitude of 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,” wrote 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, a retired chief engineer for irrigation, Madras, published in 1896.