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Legacy of Ideas as an Inspiration

Not a single invention in the history of mankind came about by itself. It always represented the aspiration of many people to solve a problem that gave them great pains while only the greatest minds would search and find solutions. Of course, the biggest problems have always been caused by nature with its forces, and people throughout history have always tried, and often succeeded, in finding a solution, from making fire to today’s ways of using the power and energy of wind, water, sun…

One of such minds was the engineer Nikola Mirkov, the creator of the Danube – Tisza – Danube Canal, a hydrosystem that connects the Danube and Tisza rivers and represents one of the greatest human endeavors of its kind ever.

The great poet of hydrotechnics, as engineer Mirkov was called, studied the complex problem of water for decades. He actively participated in solving problems in his native Novi Sad, he was also the main designer of the defensive embankment near the Great War Island, and was directly involved in its construction from 1929 to 1934, and he collaborated very closely with Dr. Gedeon Dunđerski and his sons. After the end of the Second World War, he participated, as one of our greatest water management experts who also spoke five languages fluently, in the Peace Conference in Paris.

All the time he obsessively visited the banks of rivers, streams and canals and studied swamps, flooded lands, medicinal waters and river courses.

Finally, after decades of studying water, he came up with the idea that the only solution for Vojvodina was the construction of the Danube – Tisza – Danube Canal, for which preparations began as early as 1947.

The main purpose of the Canal is drainage and drying of the soil, which is essential for Bačka and Banat. Only with the beginning of the draining of the previously swampy land did Banat and Bačka become suitable for life and larger settlements began to develop there.

At the time of its construction, the Canal represented one of the largest investment projects. Its size can also be seen through the fact that for the construction of this complex hydrological system it was necessary to excavate 130 million cubic meters of earth, while for example 179 million cubic meters of earth were dug up during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Today, on the 45th anniversary of the Canal, there are 22 gates, 14 ports, 5 security gates, 6 pumps and 180 bridges in it, and it is navigable in a length of 664 kilometers. The canal actually represents an extremely complex system of canals with a total length of 929 kilometers and is used for irrigation and anti-flooding, but also as a waterway, for tourism, hunting and fishing.

Unfortunately, Nikola Mirkov did not see the completion of the work on his biggest project, the Danube – Tisa – Danube Canal. He died in 1957 in Zurich. With the consent of the Mirkov family, his body was cremated and the urn with the ashes was transported by hearse through the main streets of the city to the Almaš cemetery. It was the first case that the remains of a cremated citizen were ceremoniously carried through the streets of Novi Sad for burial.

“One should be born, grow up and live in this endless lowland. One should feel deeply and to the core the water woes and that eternal struggle of having water in excess and longing for water. If the years are rainy – danger and misfortune, if the years are dry – trouble is even greater. The Danube water regime and its incredibly complex nature, should be studied and understood. We need to consider significant past experiences, both ours and those that belong to others.”