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M. A. Easwaran

(1895 – 1978) – (Tamilnadu)

M. A. Easwaran (Aged 83) was born on October 25, 1895, in Karungalpalayam, Erode, Tamil Nadu. He was born into a farming family. Easwaran’s involvement with the freedom movement began at the age of 25 when Gandhi called for students across the country to boycott foreign educational institutions. Easwaran quit his studies at Trichy St Joseph College and became a follower of Gandhi.

Easwaran pledged to not marry or wear chappals until India was freed from the British Raj. Throughout his 25-year involvement in the freedom movement, he was abused, assaulted and imprisoned several times, and had several close encounters with death. Once, he was taken to a forest area by the police and brutally assaulted until he bled from his nose and fell unconscious. Fortunately, a few shepherds found him and gave him medical treatment, saving his life.

Unlike many other key members, including EVR Periyar, who quit the Congress even before India gained independence, Easwaran continued to work for his people and was soon appointed the head of the Erode district unit. Through his simple and honest ways, he garnered many supporters for the party. It was here that he made his biggest contribution to his homeland, the creation of the Lower Bhavani Project (LBP) dam.

At the time, Erode district was part of the composite Coimbatore district, and the entire region was drought-prone and lacked any significant means of irrigation. All regions were dependent on the Bhavani river water except for the 500-year-old Tadapalli-Arakkankottai and 750-year-old Kalingarayan ayacuts with an area of 40,000 acres. In 1946, Easwaran was fielded as the Congress candidate for the Erode area in the Assembly election for the Madras Presidency and won unanimously.

Soon after, Andhra Kesari T Prakasam needed the support of one more MLA to become the chief minister of Madras Presidency. Easwaran stepped forward to lend his support but on one condition: he wanted Prakasam to arrange for the construction of the LBP dam. Easwaran passed away in 1978.