PAKISTAN ENGINEERING CONGRESS AN OVERVIEW OF 94 YEARS
Pakistan Engineering Congress, as it is known today, was established on
Saturday the 3rd of February 1912 when ninety officers belonging to the
Irrigation Branch, the Buildings and Roads Branch and the Railway
Branch met to form this Organization. Of these, 74 were British, 16
Indians, one among them being a Muslim. Mr. W.S. Dorman, Executive
Engineer, B&R Branch, who was to act as Secretary for many years to
come, played a leading part in the formation of the Congress. The
objective of the Congress was declared:
promote the well being of the Department by affording members an
opportunity of meting annually to discuss subjects of professional or
departmental interest and for social intercourse. "
of the Congress was open to gazetted Engineer-Officers of the PWD,
Irrigation and Railway Departments including Temporary Engineers. The
original proposal to restrict membership to the Punjab Officers was
dropped. A General Committee consisting of President, two Vice
Presidents and twelve Members (representatives from the three
Departments) was elected to make arrangements for the first session of
the Congress the following year. The General Committee was empowered to
appoint an Executive Committee to transact all ordinary business
connected with the Congress. A provision for Honorary Membership was
adopted during the first meeting to enable Municipal and District
Engineers holding Diplomas from some recognized engineering
institutions to become members. The annual subscription was fixed as Rs.
The following were the first office bearers:
|Sir Harry Burt Mr.
||W.E. Bennet Colonel
|Mr. A. Rowland Mr. J.
|Southerland Mr. W.D.
|Mr. V. Stanton Mr.
Buildings & Roads Branch
| D:\PEC - AN
| OVERVIEW of 94
||Mr. R.E. Omors Mr.
||A.R. Murray Mr. O.H.
||Lee Mr. Baij Nath Mr.
||R.O Hadow Mr. J.
||Ashford Mr. G.
In those days it was not necessary for the President to be stationed in
Lahore. It was to suit the convenience of his movements that the
meetings of the general Committee were fixed.
The first meeting of the general Committee was held on Tuesday the 27th
of February 1912. The annual subscription was raised from rupees five
to ten. Sending of notice to all Members in the following term was
"The General Committee while welcoming papers on any professional
subject put forward the following list as likely to be of interest for
the next Congress:-
- Reservoirs for conserving the surplus waters of the Punjab Rivers.
- Prevention of Sedimentation in canals.
- Rise and fall of subsoil water as effected by irrigation and drainage.
- Tubewells for town supply and irrigation.
- Mechanical appliances to supplement hand labour in engineering
construction in the province.
- Mechanical equipment for irrigation works.
- River Training, more especially with reference to the construction of
channels for the purposes of railway bridging.
means to be adopted to extend the usefulness and influence of the
Congress so as to embrace the whole profession in India."
last named objective was upper-most in minds of the founders of the
Congress. In a meeting held during the same month, the general
Committee directed the Executive Committee "to take steps to bring to
the notice of the leading men of the profession in other Provinces the
action taken in the Punjab in forming this Congress with a view to
similar action being taken by them in their own Provinces, the idea
being eventual bounding together of all such movements into one
co-ordinate body for ail India".
The first Session of the Congress
was held in the Town Hall on 10th February 1913, at 2.30 PM. The
Session lasted two days and it concluded with a garden party at which
Rs. 2/- per head were charged. A band was in attendance and
arrangements were made for tennis and badminton.
The proceeds of the Party exceeded the expenditure by Rs. 39/11/6. (Rupees Thirty Nine Eleven annas and six pies).
During the same year the Honorary Membership was thrown open to the
Royal Engineers and the idea of presenting a Gold Medal for the author
of the best paper was conceived. A recruitment drive for membership was
It looks as if in the earlier years it was not the practice for the
President to deliver regular presidential address. At least it is not
available for 1913 and 1914. In 1915 the Vice President of the Congress
Mr. F.E. Gwyther in his opening remarks regretted the enforced absence
of President Colonel Maclagen and made the announcement that their
brother officers in Burma and Bombay had started Engineering Congress
on very similar lines to their, while the Government of India had also
shown their appreciation of such congress by convening one for all
India at Simla in 1913. These facts, he thought, went to show that the
Congress was useful, for purposes of exchanging technical experience,
as well as for trying to secure unity, and for refreshing personal
By 1916 the Congress had been well established. The membership had
risen to 196. The first Gold Medal of the Congress was awarded to Mr.
TA. Curry for his paper on Lining irrigation Channels.
The 1916 session was marked by the presence of the Lieutenant Governor
Punjab for the first time. In his address the Governor observed:
"Colonel Cra'ster and Gentlemen - It is a great privilege and pleasure
to be asked to attend the Congress this year; and I am proud of the
fact that the Punjab, in this and so many otKer matters, has set the
lead to the rest of India (applause). I understand that the Congress in
this Province is the first to have been organized. It is only right,
and fitting, for, though this is the youngest of the great provinces of
India, no province has provided so much
scope for the labours of engineers, and no province has profited so
much by their labours. This applies to every branch of the engineering
profession; we have examples all around us."
The Governor (who was also called the Ruler) further observed:
"In touring over this province one can hardly take step without coming
in contact with the results of your labours in one direction or
another, and if now and again they furnish matters for that criticism,
which those of us, who only imperfectly understand the difficulties you
have to contend with, are prone to indulge in; they more frequently
give us reason for pride and satisfaction. It is to discuss those
problems, to eliminate any evil results, and to extend the good
results, that you have met here to-day. I am sure that the discussion
will be full of value to yourselves and also to
In 1916 the name of the Congress was changed to "Punjab Engineering
Congress". It was the same year when the Viceroy of India had formally
opened the Upper Jhelum Canal, a Project costing nearly 4.5 crore
rupees, as also the King Edward Memorial and Veterinary College and
Hospital at Lahore.
It was during this year that the members of the Congress were allowed
to draw travelling allowance for attending the Congress. The Governor
announced in the meeting:
"I am glad, in so far as this Local Government is concerned, to have
done something to facilitate matters by allowing officers, who attend
the Congress, to draw travelling allowance (applause). It is not fair
to those who come together to pool their experience for the common good
'that they should suffer monetary loss thereby.".
The meetings of the Committee used to be held at different places at
the N.W.R. Agent's office, Town Hall, P.W.D. Secretariat and in the
office of Chief Store-keeper of the Railways. The members were working
with great energy, confidence and with a sense of achievement. A member
who had'submitted a paper to the Congress on finding out that his paper
might also be published by the Institution of Civil Engineers, London
asked if the Congress was prepared to forego its claim on his paper.
The matter was put before the General Committee where it was decided to
inform the author that having accepted his paper, the Congress was not
prepared to relinquish its claim and further that "his paper was too
good to waste, on the Institutions."
In 1917 in his Presidential Address Colonel S. L. Cra'ster narrated the
development of Railways in the sub-continent. He observed:
"Good though the roads were, it was evident that railways must
supplement them as main arteries of communication. The earliest of
these built within the limits of this province was the section from
Multan to Amritsar, designed (in conjunction with a steam flotilla from
Multan to Kotri, and the Sindh Railway from Kotri to Karachi) to obtain
direct access to the sea. Begun in 1859, the section between Amritsar
and Lahore was opened for traffic in 1862, and three years later
extended to Multan and Sher Shah the river Port of Multan. Ere this,
connection with Delhi had been decided on, and, was completed in the
spring of 1870, when the Sindh, Punjab and Delhi Company was formed to
amalgamate the Sindh Railway, the Punjab Railway and the Delhi Railway,
under a Government guarantee of five per cent interest. The weak link
in the chain between Amritsar and Karachi was the river journey, for it
took three weeks to accomplish the distance from Kotri to Sher Shah,
when coming upstream.
In 1878 this was superseded by the Indus Valley Railway, which ran from
Multan to Rohri on the left bank of the river, and onward from Sukkur
to Kotri on the right bank, passengers and wagons being ferried to and
from between Rohri and Sukkur."
He further exhorted the engineers to work selflessly and said:
"The Engineer, be he ever so energetic enthusiastic, is bound to feel
jaded and heart-weary at times, and to all such I would command the
lines of Clough, the poet, when he says:
"Go with the spiritual life, the higher volition and action. With the
great girdle of God, go and encompass the earth. Not for the gain of
gold, for the getting, the hoarding, the having. But for the joy of the
deed-but for the Duty to do."
In those days the members of the Congress evinced great interest in the
activities of the engineering profession in all spheres. At the 1918,
Session, the President of the Congress, the Hon'ble Mr. D.W. Aikman,
Chief Engineer and Secretary to Government, Buildings and Roads
Department, dealt at-length on the role of engineers during the war. He
spoke not only about the engineers of his, own side but also of the
preparedness, training and works of the enemy engineers.
Since its very formation, the members of the Congress had been
attempting to stir up other Provinces in India to form bodies of
engineers similar to the Punjab Engineering Congress. The ultimate
objective in the minds of the founders was an All India Institution of
Engineers comprising a federation of "the Provincial Congress. By 1918
Burma, Bombay and Mysore formed their own associations. Their
constitutions were studied by the Congress. Changes were made in its
own constitution to have an uniformity.
In his Presidential Address before the 1920. Session, Mr. A.S. Montgomery was in apposition to claim:
"In November 1918 on the termination of the war, the committee decided
to communicate with Bombay, Burma and Mysore asking them to join in
getting all Provinces to start similar Provincial Associations, which
would ultimately combine to form an All-India Association. The seed
thus sown has sprung up into the Institution of Engineers (India), and
we may rightly claim, in my opinion, the majority of the credit for its
However, the matters did not end there. The annals of the Congress are
replete with long drawn out negotiations and communications between the
Congress and the Institution of Engineers, India (during its formative
stages and after its formation), for a union with the Institution. For
thirty years with the Institution of Engineers India and, later on with
the Institution of Engineers Pakistan the stand taken by the Congress
has been that it would welcome an association which does not amount to
merger or loss of its own identity. It 'goes to show how zealous and
tenacious the Congress has been in preserving its identity and status.
In April 1920, Mr. Dorman who since the formation of the Congress in
1912 had worked as its Secretary decided to lay the reins of the
office. The Congress President Mr. A.S. Montgomery in his Presidential
Address said, "the Congress was started by our excellent Honorary
Secretary Mr. W.S. Dorman in 1912 who is to proceed on well-earned
furlough very shortly, and , I am sure gentlemen, I may extend to him
on your behalf, every good wish during his time at home, and that I
express the voice of this Congress, when I thank him from the bottom of
our hearts for all that he has done for us. Engineering in India and in
the Punjab particularly, owes a deep debt of gratitude to Mr. Dorman,
who devoted all his energy towards furthering the interests of Punjab
engineers, by enabling us to meet here for the purpose of friendly
discussion on matters of interests and by so efficiently - organizing
these meetings, which help greatly towards good feeling between
officers of the various branches, of engineering. Doubtlessly it will
be remembered by all, that our last meeting was held under some
difficult and peculiar circumstances, when Mr. Dorman was not only
carrying out his work as our Honorary Secretary but was also, armed to
the teeth, carrying on as Sergeant in the Indian Defence Force."
The Congress instituted a Dorman Presentation Fund in which
Rs.547/-were collected towards expenditure of a present for Mr. Dorman.
From the remarks of the Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab at the 1920,
Session it is apparent that the papers presented before the congress in
those days, which had averaged ten yearly, had a decided impact on the
Government policies pertaining to the works of development. The
Governor had observed;
"I may say that of the numerous valuable papers which were read at the
last session, there are two, and possibly more, which had a distinctly
substantial effect on engineering development in this Province.
Speaking for myself, if it had not been for having read Mr. Milne's
paper on the supply of electric power, I should not have welcomed as
warmly as I did, the opportunities which offered themselves last
autumn, for making a start on the examination of the Sutlej Power
Scheme, and I believe that if it had not been for Mr. Dorman's paper on
Highways in the Punjab, our Communications Board would not have been
started as early as it was."
Congress by this time was well conscious of its role to guide the
technical destiny of the province. In 1921 Mr. F.T. Bates in his
presidential address enumerated the subjects on which papers for next
session should be written. It will be seen that subjects suggested were
the one that were to dominate the technical horizon for the years to
come. Concludingly he remarked:
"Gentlemen! In closing
my address may I claim the privilege as your President on this occasion
of suggesting certain subjects for papers for future Congress meetings.
The subjects are those which I think you will admit are of some
importance. There are three that are uppermost in my mind, viz:
- The introduction of mechanical appliances to meet the increasing
deficiency in manual labour in this country. We have arrived at a
stage at which, unless machines are introduced, we shall be
brought to a standstill on large works of urgency.
- The second subject is the most suitable utilization of the energy
* available at canal falls. I think that with, the greater familiarity
growing up round us of things electrical, we should bestir ourselves to
see that available power, wherever found, is suitably harnessed to do
some useful work.
- The third subject is that of a cheap form of building construction for
small dwellings. There appeared recently in one of the engineering
papers a method of pressed clay construction for walls in small
buildings. It seems to me that pressed clay, or clay strengthened in
some way to stand increased pressure, offers a wide field for the
builder of small dwellings, and investigations into the possibilities
would amply repay the cost and trouble taken."
presidential addresses of the Congress are replete with novel ideas and
embody the thinking of the time. Some time we confront the mention of
such projects, which perhaps never materialized but are nevertheless
interesting. Mr. W. P. Sangster in 1922 says:
"The prospects for
the development of agricultural tramways in various parts of the
Province have been investigated by the Agricultural Tramway Engineer
and in some instances detailed projects have been prepared. A system of
a total length of about 200 miles in the Lyallpur area costing Rs.
56,00,000 has been projected in detail, and its construction has been
recommended to the Local Government. Possibly funds will be arranged
for this in the Provincial Development Loan."
1923, Sir Ganga Ram had the honour of being the first Non-British to be
elected as President of the Congress. In his address before the 1924
Session he remarked:
"Your Excellency and Gentlemen. It was not
small surprise to me last year when I heard that I was elected
President of the year, and, since it is the highest honour in a
technical institution of this kind that can be conferred on a member
and, I being so unworthy of it, I recognized all the more that you have
treated me with a generous consideration which 1 highly appreciate."
> In his most interesting address he further observed;
"Gentlemen, I am a living record of half a century of the Public Works
in the Punjab, as I joined in 1873. I could never have imagined that I
would live to see the day when a coolie, then getting two annas and six
pies per day would be earning twelve annas to one rupee a day, and a
mason or carpenter then getting six to eight annas a day, would be
earning two rupees four annas to two rupees eight annas a day. This is
seemingly an index of prosperity, yet the working class are not getting
proportionately richer, as the mode of their living has materially
changed, prices of commodities have risen, and altogether there is a
keener struggle for life, a necessary result of modern civilization."
He narrated the story of his post-retirement occupation with lift irrigation and said:
"Having strengthened my conviction that my knowledge of engineering
ought to help me, I came into the field, and afforded to solve the
problem in right earnest. This led to a grant of 50 squares, which
later on expanded to 100 and so on and so on. Opportunities after
opportunities came in my way till "cusecs" "lift", "Power" became my
household terms, and I deduced simple formula for solving in the jungle
any factor out of the four I have indicated, and if you, gentlemen,
will take pencil and paper and jot down a few simple rules, you will
find that you will be able to solve mentally several problems of lift
irrigation for agriculture:
- For centrifugal pumps,
Discharge in cusecs = d2/18
For instance, a 12-inches pump will give 122/18 = 8 cusecs
- Power required in lifting water =
Discharge x height of lift x 2/9
This is based on an efficiency of 50 percent
Cusecs x height = horse power obtainable. The denomination 15 is a safe
practical figure; in theory it is 8 and Mear's figure was 11, but the
cautions figures is 15."
During his year in office
the Membership of the Congress was thrown open to engineers possessing
the following qualifications:
Degree or Diploma from a recognized University.
Diploma from the Roorkee College.
Membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Membership of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers,
1930, the Congress had firmly established itself. In fact it
was flourishing. The increase in Membership is shown in the following
The finances were declared to be in "healthy condition" as the balance
stood at Rs. 13,845/8/9. Its proceedings were being sent all over the
world and were in considerable demand.
The president of the '18th Congress Mr. W.S. Dorman referred to this advancing maturity and said:
"The thought, that this is our eighteenth Congress, engenders feelings
akin to those, of the high minded youth, who, leaving school full of
great and noble ideals and reliant on himself, is determined to make
the world a better place than he finds it. Time may shatter some of his
ideals and experience may show him that others are impracticable, but
so long as he remains true of himself all will be well."
The subject of Mr. Dorman's address was the speeding up of
communications. He wondered at the speed of 357.7 miles/hour attained
by some Squadron Leader Orlebar on 12th September and then advocated
the spiritual values to match up the material progress. He said:
"But Gentlemen, I do not wish to end in a purely materialistic concept
of progress, which appears to have found its supreme expression in that
land of rash and hurry-the United States of America and which is so far
removed from that under-current of spiritual life which we like to
associate with the East, and which I should like to see reflected, more
in our work. Sir Benjamin Brodie, addressing the Royal Society in 1859,
said that physical investigation more than any thing besides helped to
teach us the actual value and right use of imagination, which, if
properly controlled by experience and reflection, became the noblest of
men, the source of poetic genius and the instrument of discovery in
In his speeches a Chief Guest Sir Fazl-i-Hussain said:
"The Engineering Congress has now become an annual institution in the
intellectual activities of the province, and there can be no two
opinions about the very great utility of the institution. It is making
most valuable contribution to engineering knowledge and research."
The depreciation years of 1930's were to have effect on the Congress
membership as well. Between 1931 and 1935 the Membership fell down from
432 to 372.
The all round financial stringency got reflected in the addresses of
this period. His Excellency, Sir G.F. De Montgomery, Governor of the
Punjab in his inaugural address in 1931 remarked:
"For it is in the inevitableness of the present all prevailing
financial stringency that many projects of great public utility and
technical interest must be deferred, and many investigations of the
highest importance must be curtailed or suspended for some time to
come; but this depressing thought in its turn induces another line of
thought, which can, in my view, be pursued with some advantage at a
Congress of Engineers, representing many different administrations,
departments and interests. The problem for want of a better name, I may
describe as the possibility of a closer concatenation of engineering
effort in the public interest."
In 1932, Sardar Sikandar Hayat Khan, at that time member for Revenue
was the Chief Guest. In his address in the context of overall
depression he sounded a note bf warning to the Punjab economy due to
the construction of Sukkur Barra'ge. Though later found unrealistic, it
is interesting to read;
"The other matter which is equally compelling and needs immediate
attention is the impending competition from Sindh which we will have to
face in the near future. It is claimed that the Sukkur Barrage Scheme
will bring under cultivation 5.5 million acres in Sindh and Khairpur.
It is not difficult to visualize the result of this enormous accretion
to the already large acreage under wheat and cotton in this and the
other provinces. The question is how are we to meet or at least to
minimize the conceivable effect of the competition from a tract which
has a considerable advantage over us due to its closer proximity to the
port of Karachi which has hitherto been handling almost exclusively the
exportation of Punjab produce."
The undercurrent of depression continued to mark the address of
Congress. In 1933 Dr. Gokal Chand Narang concluded his address by
"Before I close, I must say a word of sympathy to those engineers who
without much fault of theirs, have fallen a victim to the axe of
retrenchment and some of whom may not even be present here. They should
not lose heart. Government Service is not the only vocation in life and
there is a world elsewhere as well. Men of ability and grit will not
starve. It is for them to combine and join their heads to discover some
avenue of useful pursuit. Private practice in engineering ,may be a
novelty in the Punjab but it is not so in other parts of the world and
what is possible elsewhere can and ought to be made possible in this
Province. Then there is the great and yet almost un-trodden field of
industry. India is at a primitive stage of industrial development and
engineers with initiative, grit and energy can pool their resources and
set-up moderate-sized foundries and other engineering works and induce
capitalists to start factories and mills of every kind which will not
only solve the problem of their unemployment but would also render a
real service to their country."
His address-was further characterized by poetic expression of the achievement of engineers:
"If I had defined the functions of engineers as mentioned in the
Charter, I would have added the creation of beauty as well. When I look
at a beautiful building it strikes me as a work of art, in fact, a
piece of poetry written in brick and mortar, stone and cement, its
arches, curves cupolas and turrents, its architrave, friezes, cornices
and other entablature representing, as it were, the letters of an
artist's -alphabet, its majesty of design viewing with the majestic
flow of the mighty lines of Marlowe and Milton and its symmetry of
structure reminding one of the balance of the many storeyed Spenserian
In 1934, for the first time, Indian gentlemen were permitted to wear
non-EUropean dress as defined in the Punjab Code at the Congress
Dinner. It was also during this year that the visits by train to
engineering works were given up till more prosperous times.
In 1937 came the provincial autonomy and greater association of Public
representatives with administration. This year the president of
Congress Mr. J.D.H. Bedford added another dimension to the role of
Congress by highlighting:
"We are on the threshold of big constitutional changes in the form of
Government, and every year it is becoming more important that an
engineer should be able to state his facts, reasons and conclusions in
such a way that a non-technical man who is to provide the funds for
him, can follow them clearly. His arguments should be as convincing to
the layman as they are sound from technical considerations. This
ability to argue and convince is best attained by public discussions,
and I hope that the young engineers particularly will take full
advantage of the facilities afforded by the Congress platform, at the
same time remembering that the time at our disposal is short."
The first twenty-five years of the Congress proved, to be an
outstanding success. In 1938, R.B. Bawa Natha Singh, observed during
his presidential address:
Congress was founded in 1912 and this is its 25th or Jubilee Session.
For several years before the Congress was started, a strong need had
been felt for an Association, where men engaged in the profession of
engineering could meet periodically and pool their knowledge and
exchange views on the difficult problems facing them in the course of
their daily duties. The objects with which the Congress was started are
set forth in the memorandum in the following words:
- To promote the science and practice of engineering.
- To afford its members an opportunity for meeting at least once a
year to discuss matters of engineering interest and to enjoy social
these objects have been fully realized will be at once clear from the
25 volumes of literature issued by the Congress since its inception
dealing with some of 'the most intricate problems of engineering. A
great stimulus has also been given during this period to experiment and
research by the foundation of the Irrigation Research institute in
Lahore on the recommendation of this Congress. This Congress was the
first of its kind in this country and is in a way the mother of all
other Engineering Congresses and Associations in India. Both in point
of attendance at meetings and the quality and volume of literature
produced, it has maintained its superiority over ail of them. Our
membership which stood at 92, twenty five years ago, stands at 372 this
year, an increase of 280 members which is a clear index of the
popularity and usefulness of this institution."
Records of the
Congress indicate that after. Dorman the officer who put in a great
amount of work into the activities of the Congress was late Mr. D.A.
Howell. Throughout his stay in the service of the Punjab he worked in
the Committee continuously volunteering, himself for many tasks, from
parking of the cars at the time of annual functions to holding office
President in the year 1938-39.
With the passage of time the Congress had become the mouthpiece of
profession and the presidential pronouncements started encompassing the
status of engineer itself as against the engineering works. Mr. R.
Trevor Jones in 1941 remarkd,
"Where does the engineer fail to-day? A friend of mine, discussing
professions, claimed that the term should not be applied to the
engineer. He said "Look at your Dictionary and see the meaning of the
word "Profession". I looked and one of them is: "an employment not
mechanical and requiring some degree of learning. Although this was
meant in fun, may be it has a message for us. Is the efficient engineer
liable to become too mechanical in mentality, too rigid in his outlook,
too hide-bound by this educational technique and theoretical standards?
This is possibly a danger and one to be guarded against. He can lose
what is known as his common sense, his power of judging problems from
the accepted facts of things. It may be that the engineer's advice in
future will be required in many matters which are not necessarily
technical or professional."
In 1944, Sir Arthur Griffin K.T.O.B.E. was President. The subject of
his speech was a "survey of the various engineering developments and
problems on Railways". He reviewed the modern trends of design in
railway track, the forces to which a locomotive is subject when running
on track, improvement Mn sleeper design, bridge design and role of
welding in it.
Sir Bertrand James Clancy Governor of the Punjab was chief guest. In his reply to presidential address he said:
"One item of information, that Sir Arthur has given us has caused me no
little disquietude and that is his account of the strange variety of
ways, in which a railway-engine is capable of mis-conducting itself. It
appears that even the best constructed and most perfectly behaved
engine is obsessed by an incurable hunting instinct-romantic perhaps
but nonetheless alarming. Like many others my highest ambition in my
earliest youth was to rise to the position of an engine-driver. So far
as I am concerned the last traces of this ambition have been finally
dispelled. Those who would aspire to this calling require, I now
realize, a quite 'unusual degree of resolution and gallantry; they must
be prepared to force their uneasy iron hunters, snorting from flange
trouble, over a flexible and elastic track in what may be described as
a continuous "points to points" race from one end of the country to the
other. So adventurous a career is beyond the endurance of the ordinary
Pakistan came into being in 1947. The up heavel was indeed great and
the activities of Congress remained suspended for sometime. A meeting
was called on 2nd April 1949 by Dr. M. Ishaq at his residence, No.21
'Cooper Road, Lahore, with a view to "reviving the Punjab Engineering
Congress or a similar Body to deal with the future Applied Sciences
development, of Western Pakistan". The meeting was attended by the
Chief Engineers of Irrigation, Buildings & Roads and Electricity
and other engineers from these Departments. It was also attended by
some outside engineers and officers from the Department of Industry.
After obtaining legal advice it was decided that it would be proper and
fitting to call the Annual General Meeting of the Punjab Engineering
Congress and to hold election of the office-bearers and to take steps
to acquire the assets of the Punjab Engineering Congress.
The first Annual Meeting in Pakistan was held in the Committee Room of
the P.W.D. Secretariat at 9 A.M. on 4th of June 1949. Mr. S. I.
Mahboob, Chief Engineer, Irrigation, was in Chair. Mr. M.A. Hamid was
elected President, Messrs S.I. Mahboob and S.M. Hasan were elected
Vice-Presidents and Mr. A.M. Malik Secretary. A Membership recruitment
drive was launched. In the general letters issued to all the members of
the Congress, it was stated that:
"You know that the Punjab Engineering Congress is again in action now.
Consequent upon the migration of Non-Muslim Engineer Officers to East
Punjab, the number of Members has decreased considerably. It is now
desired that all the Gazetted Engineer Officers of the P.W.D.
Irrigation Branch, Electricity, Railway and M.E.S. may be invited to
join the body immediately.
The Congress intends to keep its traditions of the past and in this
connection it is proposed to hold the next Annual General Meeting in
December, 1949. Technical Papers will be read in this Session and all
usual facilities will be provided to the Members. Exact date of the
meeting will be advertised in the Newspapers."
The Membership which was 93 in 1950 rose to 130 at the end of the same year and shot up to 231 in 1951.
The first session after Independence could only be held in 1951. K.B.
Muhammad Abdul Hamid was the President and Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar,
Governor of the Punjab was the chief guest. The engineers by this time
had come under maximum strain to lose the positions of administrative
responsibility and were reduced to mere technicians. In his
presidential address Mr. Hamid developed -the case of engineers and
"The public and the politicians have yet to learn that by encouragement
the Engineer like other human being can be made to deliver the goods
and put in any amount of hard work. Under favourable circumstances the
Engineer's initiatives become alive and progressive. A sense of
frustration kills every progressive element in the make up of the
Engineer's mind. The development of the country depends mostly, if not
wholly, on the Engineer. The Public and politicians would do well to
study how to create circumstances to get the best out of the Engineers.
On the other hand, the Engineer should go all out to prove to the
public, and the politicians his worth against all odds. It was in 1943
that the then President of the Punjab Engineering Congress, Sir,
William Roberts brought forth in his presidential address the claims
and suitability of Engineers for administrative posts. In 1946, Sir
Henry Craik the then Governor of the Punjab, while opening the Congress
Session, made the following remarks :-
It is the misfortune or perhaps the good fortune of engineers to remain
for the most part anonymous. The achievements are corporate, rather
than individual. Save for a few who have distinguished themselves as
designers of military fortifications there are perhaps not more than a
dozen engineers whose names are famous throughout the world. Though the
works of the Engineer defy (or should defy) the ravages of time and
stand often as the most indestructible monuments of human achievement,
yet the men whose genius reared them leave little trace of their
identity. We do not know whose mind conceived the geometrical
exactitude of the Pyramids, nor whose skill and knowledge perfected the
Roman roads and acquaducts. And this lack of any record of the
individual engineer may perhaps make us forget that in engineering, as
in other fields of human endeavour, progress, or indeed the avoidance
of retrogression, depends on a continuous supply of individual genius.
For the Punjab whose present prosperity was founded by engineers and
whose future progress depends no less upon them, it is a matter of
vital concern that there should not only be a plentiful stream of
qualified engineers of solid and respectable ability, but also in every
generation one or two men with a spark of engineering genius
distinguishing them from the rest."
The inaugural address of Sardar Abdur Rab Nishter was most reassuring. He said,
"I am at one with Mr. Hamid that the administration should not confine
to utilizing the Engineering skill of our people only in P.W.D. Railway
Engineering and similar departments in which they have specialized. I
mean that for almost every post if a technical man could be found he
will be preferred over a non-technical man. That has been my policy.
Last year I had to select a member for the Public Service Commission.
According to the traditions of this Province, certain judicial officers
recommended and being a Governor I thought I had to follow the custom
and precedents in the Province, but the moment I came to know that a
technical man was available I jumped at the opportunity and appointed
him in preference to the non-technical man who had very great backing.
It was because of this reason that I have put in on the file that for
such cases a technical man should have preference over a non-technical
man. Therefore, I hope, Mr. Hamid would not have and should not have
any confusion on this point. He knows it well that matters whether they
relate to industry or any other section I used to invite him and some
of his colleagues for their advice.
As it was pointed out by Mr. Hamid in his address, for the success of
the members of the Public Services, it is absolutely essential to
secure, the co-operation of the public and this co-operation of the
public you can attain only when you deal with them squarely and fa/rJy. When you approach
them in a spirit of public servant, you should be sympathetic. I hope
that in times to come the politicians who take charge of administration
and the members of the public services will realize their respective
positions, and perform their duties in a way that will give greater
satisfaction. I hope that our Engineers will be the foremost in this
respect. I wish you every success in your deliberations. Your
individual efforts in the past have resulted in remarkable results. Now
that you have assembled together to discuss matters between yourselves
I hope that your collective efforts will yield still better results."
1954 was a year of special significance in as much as suggestions were
made in the meetings of the Council for starting a journal of the
Congress, for having a Symposium at the annual session and to have a
building for housing the Headquarters of the Congress. The membership
by the time had risen to 369. -
In 1955 came that momentous- political decision to unify all the
provinces into a single province of West Pakistan. In its wake came
integration of services. The Punjab Engineering Congress was replaced
by West Pakistan Engineering Congress and opened its doors to members
of engineering services of all the provinces.
The decision, of the council to hold symposium at the annual sessions
materialized for the first time in 1957 When the subject for symposium
was, selected to be' "Housing Problem in West Pakistan". Since then the
symposium is the regular feature of the annual session.
The quarterly journal of the Congress "Engineering News" is being regularly published.
In 1963 Congress completed its fifty years of fruitful service to the
nation. By then it had produced forty seven volumes of proceedings
362 technical papers and seven volumes of symposia on topics as
divergent as -"Water-logging and Salinity" Engineering Education, and
"Floods" etc. That year registered another land-mark. P.W.D. had
completed 100 years of its inception. The Congress was proud to bring
out a Publication highlighting the achievements of P.W.D. during all
those 100 years as a Golden Jubilee publication containing very
informative articles by eminent engineers. The other publications were
usual volumes of Proceedings and Symposium on "Water-logging and
Salinity in West Pakistan". The Membership of Engineering Congress had
by then risen to 900. Recounting the achievements of the Engineering
Departments in his Address 'of Welcome, during the 47th session held on
7th October 1963 in the Punjab University Hall, the President Engr. A.
Rashid Qazi S.Q.A. reminded the Engineers to rededicate themselves for
the service of the fellow men and the nation in the following words:-
"Brother Engineers, we who have chosen this creative profession to
mould and master the forces of nature, have a duty to strive for a
better living for our fellowmen. Let not spells of weariness and
dejection cloud our vision or impair our capacity to meet the
ever-mounting obligations. We must stand up to our responsibilities and
be counted now if we are to lay any claim to the plaudits for the one
hundred years of engineered progress.
The very word "profession" has a religious almost reverent connotation
and must reflect our faith in whatever we profess. As Engineers, we
must display integrity, both technical and otherwise, follow strict
codes, and give credit for achievements to the right persons. There has
to be the element of dedication and a conscious determination to serve
and survive, breaking away from dangerous ruts. The Engineer building
the Panama Canal once expressed that the only difference between a rut
and a grave is that the grave is shorter and deeper.
To the young friends in the engineering profession, I may avail of this
opportunity to express that education does not finish with their
graduation. In fact it starts from there. There has to be a relentless
pursuit if one is to make his mark not only in his personal career but
in the history of our developing nation.
The fifty years old motto of the Congress "Prosperity and Progress"
can, best be kept aloft by re-dedicating ourselves to the service of
our fellowmen and-as we build well we shall also be serving God."
Field Marshal Muhammad Ayoob Khan was the Chief Guest during the Golden Jubilee Session of 1963.
1964 passed without annual session and the next 48th session, was held
on 17th March, 1965, under the Presidentship of Chaudhry A. Hamid. The
Executive Council made concerted efforts that year to purchase a piece
of land for construction of a building of the Engineering Congress
which bore fruit later and before the close of the year a plot
measuring 8 Kanals and 10 Marias was purchased from Lahore Development
Authority at Liberty Market Gulberg-III, Lahore for Rs.79,368/-. The
land was, however, transferred to the Engineering Congress in 1972. The
other feather in the cap of the Executive Council was that case was
moved with the Government to set up an Engineering Academy which was
later to materialize in the shape of Punjab Engineering Academy at Niaz
Beg as it now stands. The Membership had by then risen to 1021 which
bespoke of the popularity the Congress had by then nurtured. Not
oblivious of the deprivations of the Engineering Community and
conscious too of their obligations Engr. Ch.A. Hamid in his
Presidential Address on 17th March 1965 spoke:
"As for the status of the engineer viz-a-viz other services, the matter
obviously requires a very careful and considered treatment. The steps
that may be taken in-this connection have to be commensurate with the
role the Engineer is playing in the building of the nation. We would,
therefore, earnestly appeal to those in authority to take a
dispassionate view, of the situation so that this important national
heritage i.e. the body of Engineers is nursed with understanding and
appreciative hands and instead of being left to degenerate in an
atmosphere of dissatisfaction and dejection is allowed to develop,
flourish and add to the strength of the country shoulder to shoulder
with all others working towards the same objective.
While on the one hand they should, with proper decorum and methods,
pursue the attainment of what they believe are their rights, on the
other they should faithfully carry out an appraisal of themselves. If
they discover any weakness in their ranks let them first own them and
then go all out to eradicate them. There is nothing dishonourable in an
effort at self correction. It is gratifying to observe signs of
awakening to the necessity of following and adhering to certain ethics.
There can be no doubt that the observance of a well defined code of
behaviour and attitude is most essential for upholding the prestige of
the profession. We have ourselves to evolve such a code for our urgent
and serious attention. I hope the Congress in its future deliberations
will deal with this important aspect of engineer's responsibility more
The 49th Annual Session of the Congress was held on 17th October, 1966
under the Presidentship of Engr. A.M. Akhoond, Chairman Railway Board.
Member WAPDA (Power) Dr. M.A. Hamid S. Imt. was the guest of honour. In
his Address of Welcome the President of Engineering Congress recounted
the commendable role of Engineers engaged in all Disciplines, may it be
B.R.B.D Canal or Irrigation Department, vital Industries or
Essential services like the Railways, during the onslaught of Indian
invasion in the war of 1965. They kept wheels of every vital entity
moving quite effectively and dauntlessly. The President observed:
"In pursuance of the recommendations made from the platform of the
Congress in the recent past, a full-fledged University of Engineering
& Technology set up at Lahore has been doing excellent work over
the last few years. It Js gratifying to observe that apart from the
Under Graduate courses in Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Mining,
Architecture, Town Planning, Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering,
the University has started Post-Graduate courses leading to Master's
Degree in Public Health, Town Planning, Soil Mechanics, Foundation
Engineering, Structural, Hydraulic and Irrigation, Electrical and
During this session Railways were embarking on construction of a vital
alternative link between North and the South linking Kot Adu with
Kashmore passing over Taunsa Barrage. The first leg under construction
under this project was 50 mite long broad guage link between Kot Adu
and Dera Ghazi Khan. Who knew then that in the crucial 1971 war with
India this route would pass the entire traffic of Multan-Karachi main
line when this route was incapacitated by enemy bombing. During this
session conversion of metre guage track between Hyderabad and Mirpur
Khas was also under way. To release traffic pressure in Karachi which
was mounting with the every day that passed, Railways also undertook
construction of a circular Railway. To meet with ever increasing demand
of Railway sleepers, which was a cost effective import item, the
Railways were installing a pre-stressed concrete sleeper factory at
Sukkur and for the manufacturing of carriages they had planned to
construct a carriage factory at Islamabad.
WAPDA did not lag behind either. Works on the construction of Hub Dam,
Khanpur Dam, Gomal Dam and Tanda Dam, kept appreciable pace. Monumental
WAPDA House as it stands on the Mall today too was under construction.
On the Irrigation side Trimmu-Sidhnai-Mailsi-Bahawal link system had
since been completed and was working satisfactorily. Works comprising
Mangla Dam, Rasul-Qadirabad-Balloki-Sulemanki link systems and Marata
Barrage were in various stages of completion. On Power side WAPDA had
installed two transportable gas turbines, aggregating 24,000 KW at
Lahore. Thermal station of 25,000 KW capacity was completed at Sukkur
and thermal station at Hyderabad was extended by 8,000 KWs.
50th Annual Session of the Congress was held on February 23, 1968
under the Presidentship of Engr. M. A. Waheed, P.S.E.I, when the Chief
Guest for the inaugural session was General Muhammad Moosa Governor,
West Pakistan. The membership of the Congress was reported to be over
1200. The need for an in-service training facility in the form of an
Engineering Academy was reiterated. Stress was also laid for
theabsorption of 500 temporary Engineers against permanent vacancies
for development of Pakistani Consultants. Irrigation Department
reportedly planned to provide additional 22 lac acre-feet of irrigation
water from the ground water reservoir by 1970. This was to be achieved
by sinking about 3000 tubewells at a cost of Rs.80 lacs.
Construction of 50 miles broad guage rail line from Kot Adu to Dera
Chazi Khan passing over Taunsa Barrage progressed steadily for
scheduled completion by June, 1968. Conversion of 40 miles long metre
guage section between Hyderabad and Mirpur Khas to broad guage having
been completed the section was opened to traffic on 17th October, 1967.
A modern factory for the manufacture of pre-stressed concrete sleepers
went into production at Sukkur. Work on the electrification of Khanewal
-Lahore section, a length of 178 miles, was taken in hand.
A significant change in October 1967 was the bifurcation of the
Buildings and Highways Department as two separate units. Some major
river bridges were designed and/or constructed by Pakistani engineers
during sixties, such as reconstruction of old Ravi Bridge, Chicha Watni
bridge over Ravi, Jehangira Bridge over Kabul River, Bridge over Jhelum
River at Jhelum, new bridge over Ravi at Lahore and over Suttuj near
Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway entered the construction stage while
the other important highways i.e. Lahore-Sheikhupura-Lyallpur,
Sheikhupura-Sargodha-Khushab and Lahore-Muitan were in advance stages
of detailed design for starting construction before the close of 1968.
WAPDA continued with the implementation of Indus Basin Project, the
largest engineering programme demanding Rs.9 crores monthly. Mangla
Dam, Qadirabad Barrage and Qadirabad Balloki link were completed ahead
of schedule while Rasul Barrage, Rasual-Qadirabad Link and Marala
Barrage reached advanced stages of completion. WAPDA House, a
commercial and technical break-through had recently been completed.
On power side an aggregate capacity of 2.66 lac KWs was added to WAPDA
main grid system. The annual generation of energy for entire system
increased from 2900 million KWs to 3000 million KWs.
The 51st Annual Session was held on March 27, 1970 under the
Presidentship of Sh. Ahmed Hasan S. Q. A. when the Chief Guest was
General Attiq-ur-Rehman, Governor Punjab. In his presidential address,
Sh. Ahmed Hasan vehemently pleaded the cause of engaging local
consultancy and contractual services. He said "Concerning the private
sector, this forum has on past occasions drawn the attention of the
Government to the need to encourage, promote and develop locally
available consultancy and contractual services. It is increasingly felt
by the members of this Congress that the foreign consultants do not,
anymore, have an edge over the local experts except in some very rare
and sophisticated areas. This progressive self-reliance of the
Pakistani engineers should be acknowledged and Pakistani firms should
be increasingly engaged in national projects. The highest economic body
in the Government viz, National Economic Council had taken a decision
in May, 1964 that Planning Commission should, in consultation with
Provinces, make a study of how to reduce our expenditure on foreign
consultants and to what extent they can be replaced by our own
In the presence of this decision the Planning Commission constituted a
high powered working group-headed by the Additional Chief Secretary,
West Pakistan The Congress awaits its outcome with considerable
Little wonder the present day consultancy services of National and
International' standing are the direct fruits of the efforts of the
The Engineering Congress did not fail in its obligations of pleading
the cause of in-service engineers in respect of their service matters.
Spoke the President of the Congress thus:
"In West Pakistan a large number of Engineers still continue to hold
positions as Temporary Engineers, some of these for, the last twenty
(20) years. The rectification of such a position needs an immediate,
decision by the Government. In December, 1966, as Secretary Irrigation
and Power, I had submitted proposals for conversion of such temporary
posts into permanent ones which had continued for more than 5 years and
for which there was no possibility of being closed down in the near
future. No decision has been taken by the Government on this case for
the last over three (3) years. On behalf of the Engineering Congress, I
would request the Governor for an early decision in this matter not
only with regard to the Irrigation Department but also for all the
other Engineering Services."
Recounting the achievements of various Engineering Departments the President said:
"The Kot Adu-Dera Ghazi Khan railway link has already been opened to
traffic. Work to link Dera Ghazi Khan with Kashmor is in progress and
would be 40 per- cent complete during the current year. Electrification
of Lahore-Khanewal Section has been somewhat delayed, and the project
will be completed during the year 1969-70. Work on the carriage factory
at Islamabad is in advanced stage and about 80 per cent is expected to
be completed during this year. The Railways are making continuous
efforts to boost up productivity and profitability, and increase the
facilities for passengers.
Several components of Indus Basin Project have been completed during
the past two years. The Rasul Barrage, Rasul-Qadiraba