Chennai: Chennai has a 160-year-old link to the development of the mighty 2,500 km long Ganga river.
The city's oldest library, the Madras Literary Society Library (MLSL), founded in 1812, has a survey document of the River Ganga done in 1854 by the Britishers.
"It was a contour survey of the Ganges Canal. It was done by Director, Ganges Canal Works, W T Doddsworth," MLSL Librarian, V Uma Maheswari told PTI.
The survey document that MLSL possesses is huge. It has over 120 sheets in dark yellow colour.
Every sheet is approximately 10 ft x 10 ft and is folded into 3 ft x 3 ft so that it could be easy to handle. Smiling, the librarian said, "still it is not very easy to handle."
"The survey was done by Britishers in the 19th century to develop River Ganga to support irrigation needs," Honorary General Secretary of the Library, Mohan Raman said.
The voluminous survey document includes sketches and illustrations under heads like "general plan of nine feet locks, Ganges canal, protraction of survey-Cawnpoor and Etawah terminal lines for Ganges canal."
The document has the name "Smith Elder and Company 65 Corn Hill, London," printed below.
Uma Maheswari said a grant by the Union Ministry of Culture helped the library hand-laminate the huge survey document, besides several other old books.
In the early 19th century, East India Company trained its employees on several subjects, including administration in the then "Madras" at the now defunct College of Fort St George.
"Our library was then part of the college. MLSS is the oldest extant lending library in India," she said.
The library has over 55,000 books on every subject, including several centuries old books and is housed in a stately red-brick building on College Road here.