Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/77

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Cotton
Cotton
65

of the people the results are still more encouraging. The works irrigate upwards of 612,000 acres. They had raised the exports and imports of the district from 170,000l. in 1847 to 1,500,000l. in 1887. They have converted a district which in former times was continually in a state of extreme poverty and distress into one of the most prosperous districts in India. The people are now well- to-do and contented. The population has more than doubled.

The anicut on the Krishna river, in the district of that name, was projected by Cotton, but was actually planned by the late Colonel Sir Henry Atwell Lake,R.E., K.C.B. [q. v.], afterwards distinguished in the defence of Kars. Its construction, however, was carried out by the late Major-general Charles Orr, R.E., a very able officer who had received his training under Cotton on the Godávery, and in the absence of the latter, owing to ill-health, during a portion of the time that the Godávery works were in progress, had been in charge of those works.

The Krishna river, like the Godávery, has its rise in the western Gháts, and the district in which the works were constructed had suffered from time immemorial from very much the same causes which had impeded the prosperity of the Godávery district. Unlike the Godávery delta, the delta of the Krishna district begins comparatively near its embouchure, and the anicut being built across an undivided river is very much less in length than the Godávery anicut; but its section is very much greater. While the height of the Godávery anicut from the bed of the river is 14 feet, that of the Krishna anicut is 20 feet. The length of the Krishna anicut, on the other hand, is much less, being 1,300 yards against 6,267 yards, the extreme length of the Godávery anicut. The waters of the Krishna are distributed through 348 miles of navigable and 800 miles of unnavigable canals. The total cost of the anicut and the distributing canals was about 834,000l., and the number of acres irrigated is now about 400,000. The interest which the works yield upon the capital expended is put down at 7•14 per cent.

Of the three important irrigation works, of which a brief description is given in the preceding paragraphs, the first two may be regarded as the direct creation of Cotton, while, if it had not been for his enthusiastic advocacy, the construction of the third would probably have been postponed for many years. But these works do not by any means constitute the whole of the boon which has been conferred upon India by Cotton. He not only created great hydraulic works, but he founded a school of Indian hydraulic engineering which is still engaged in developing the resources of other Indian rivers. On the Pennár river in the Nellore district, on the Corteliár, on the Palár, Cheyár, and Vellár, in the districts of north and south Arcot and Chingleput, works have been constructed, which, if unavoidably less productive than those on the three larger rivers, still bear their share in increasing the food supply of the country.

And further south on the borders of the Madura district and the native state of Travancore there has lately been constructed the Periyár irrigation work, an irrigation work even more ambitious in its design, and presenting greater difficulties of construction than any irrigation work which has yet been constructed in India. Of this bold and apparently successful work it may be affirmed that it never would have been entertained if it had not been for Sir Arthur Cotton's previous labours.

The effect of Cotton's works in preventing or in mitigating famines is unquestionable. In the great famine of 1877 four million persons are supposed to have perished in the more or less unprotected districts of the Madras presidency. In the districts protected by the great irrigation works, viz. Godávery, Krishna, and Tanjore, there were no deaths from famine, and it is estimated that the surplus food exported from these districts was sufficient to save the lives of three million persons.

The eminent services rendered by Cotton had long been highly appreciated by the government under which he served. On 15 May 1858 the Madras government recorded their opinion of his work on the Godávery in the following words: 'If we have done our duty and have founded a system which will be a source of strength and wealth and credit to us as a nation, it is due to one master mind, which, with admirable industry and perseverance, in spite of every discouragement, has worked out this great result. Other able and devoted officers have caught Colonel Cotton's spirit, and have rendered invaluable aid under his advice and direction; but for this creation of genius we are indebted to him alone. Colonel Cotton's name will be venerated by millions yet unborn, when many who now occupy a much larger place in the public view will be forgotten; but, although it concerns not him, it would be for our own sake a matter of regret if Colonel Cotton were not to receive due acknowledgment during his own lifetime.'

Three years later, in 1861, on the recom-

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