|West Bengal State Engineers Association, West Bengal was established in 1920. The organization was known as State Engineers Association, West Bengal after independence in 1947. In 1995 the organization observes its platinum jubilee and in 2020 the organization will observe its Centenary year.
On 21.04.1854 one notification (No. 430 of 1854) was issued by the Governor General (Military) which was very significant to engineers . Notification is as follows:
1856 Civil Engineering College was established by British Kolkata with the intention to train European and Indian Officers and sub-ordinates in technical matters so that public work can be executed properly. The above civil engineering college was renamed as Bengal Engineering College later on. After Great Sipoy mutiny1857 the rule of the East India Company was taken over by Queen of England by the proclamation by Lord Canning on 1st November, 1858 .
Till 1866 all works were under Public Works Department. In 1866 Public works Department was divided into three distinct organizations (a) Military (b)Civilian (Roads, Housing & Irrigation) & (c) Railways. During that period Governor General Lord Laurence started investment in the public works by way of taking loan from the market. Medinipur Canal (1872), Orissa Coastal Canal (1882), Rajapur Drainage Canal (1882) were constructd during this period.
Engineers from England used to be appointed in imperial services and this was kept reserved for British only. The Indian Engineers were accommodated in provincial services only. In 1895 Military branch was totally segregated from PWD and PWD therefore was a totally civil organization.
PWD was responsible for roads, buildings, irrigation and railways.The Railways was totally segregated from the PWD and railway board was established in 1905.Till 1905 total 3600 miles of railway track were constructed under Public Works Department.
| In 1905 Lord Curzon divided Bengal into two parts as East Bengal and Assam and there were severe movement against such division of Bengal. In 16th August, 1906 National Council of Education was established and Arobindo Ghosh was its first principal. National Council of Education started technical education which subsequently turned into Jadavpur Engineering College.
Political agitation in Bengal laid the British Government to resort to more developmental works and work load of PWD was increased substantially necessitated re-organisation of PWD and on 1st September, 1913 a second post of Chief Engineer was created in Bengal Presidency. In 1916 PWD reorganization committee was set up by the Government. The committee in its recommendation tried to project that there is hardly any difference in the service conditions between imperial and provincial services. This attempt of the committee created severe agitation amongst the serving engineers of provincial services. Pay scale of the salary structure (1916 AD) is given below:
In 1886 Echison commission was set up on Indian Public Services. According to the recommendation of the said commission Indians coming out from Indian Engineering Colleges were accommodated in provincial service established in 1883. The engineering service in PWD was divided into three categories (a) Engineer (b) Upper sub-ordinate(c) Lower sub-ordinate. There were two services for Engineers viz. Imperial Service and Provincial Service.
|List of number of posts 1916 (AD)|
|In 1920 a pay scale (Rs 80 – Rs 500) introduced with a span 32 years of service for upper subordinate service. In the same year another pay scale (Rs 60-5-110-115-5-125-10-225) was introduced for subordinate engineering service. Cadres of the subordinate engineering service were designated as overseers.
It will be evident from the above that not only Indian engineers were subject to discrimination in respect of pay scale and promotion but also they suffered humiliation due to subordinate status compared to the British engineers. The National movement also held in rise of Nationalist sentiment amongst the engineers. After 1st World War (1914 – 1918) and Russian Revolution(1917)Indian started organizing themselves in different Nationalist Organisations including Trade Union organizations. In 1918 Madras Workers Union was established by Mr.Wadia. In 1920 S.M.Joshi established All Indian Trade Union congress.
In 1919 Indian foreman association was organized and also in 1920 Bengal Ministerial Association was established. At this time there were spate amongst different categories of employees to organize themselves in different services associations to fight for their own causes through Unions and Associations. Central Home Department was forced to issue orders as per No. 2619(Public) dt.7.10.1920 to extent the recognition of such services association under the following conditions:
1.The organization of the Govt. employees can be of the same category of Officers/Employees only.
Since 1913 There were two separate Chief Engineers for each department. In 1920 PWD divided into two departments (a) Public Works Department (b) Irrigation Department. Chief Engineers were the designated secretaries of those departments by virtue of their post. At the time of division of PWD & Irrigation Mr. Charles Peregrine Walsh & Mr. Chritofer Adams Williams were the Chief Engineers of PWD & Irrigation respectively at that time. In 1919 AD Montfort reform introduced dual administration. Lot of administrative, social changes forced the government engineers of Indian origin to think for forming their association to air their grievances.
In 1920 engineers (under Provincial Service) of these two departments formed their association in the name of “State Engineers, Bengal” which is named present day as State Engineers Association West Bengal.In 1924 the State Engineers under the leadership of State Engineers, Bengal protested against the discrimination between Provincial and Imperial services in respect of pay scales though qualification requirement and responsibility for both the services are the same. The British Government was forced to accept the post of Engineers and reduced the difference in pay scales.
| In 1935 Senior Service of Engineers was established in place of Indian service of engineers. The responsibility of administering the service was vested with the State Government. This lead to the abolition of All Indian Service in engineering department. This lead to adhocism in running the services in the State and devaluation of engineering services also. In 1955 Government took certain decision in respect of appointment of engineers.
1. To stop direct recruitment in the post of Assistant Executive Engineer.
In view of mass resignation of the engineers under the leadership of State Engineers Assoication State Government re-tressed its decision. In the beginning of 1960s Govt. of India took a decision to reintroduce Indian Services of Engineers which was abolished in 1935. This created the serious misbalance amongst the serving State Services Cadres as both Indian services of Engineers and provincial services will run side by side and members of Indian Services of Engineers will be Sr. and Superior than the State Services Engineers. The West Bengal engineers protested against the decision under the leadership of State engineers Association, Bengal and Govt. of West Bengal was forced to back the decision.
In 1962 expert committee for assessment of delay of execution of projects under Plan Head was constituted. Sri S.K. Patil , then Central Food Minister ,chairman of the said committee, made a significant recommendations. He argued that very little scope was available for scrutinizing the report of the Chief Engineer for concerned project by the secretary of the department who had no technical knowledge. Major time & energy was spent by the chief engineers to convince technical knowledge Secretaries who lacked technical knowledges. Any Project was first examined in different levels up to the level of Chief Engineer, then that proposal was placed for scrutiny to bottom most clerk of the Secretary then gradually it moved upwards to Secretary of the department. He stressed to appoint senior most Chief Engineer in the post of Secretary.
Since independence every commission had recommended for higher role for the engineers, doctors, technocrats but no government had the guts to implement those recommendations Dr. Nihar Ranjan Ray and Prof. A. K. Dasgupta, members of Third Central Pay Commission (1970-1973) said in their dissent note ‘: “We are strongly of the view that maintenance of disparities in these services has done harm to our society. Whatever urgency the system might have had in the past, in the present state of affairs, it is anachronism. The precedence that general administration enjoys today over other services is historical relic of colonial regime.
|The purpose of administration under that regime was limited, collection of revenue and maintenance of law were accepted as the principle function of the Government Conditions has changed, and it is time we recognize that they have changed. It is absurd in our view, that a Government which has embarked on a comprehensive programme of economic development and has accepted technical progress in its widest sense as the major aim of policy, should still continue to accord a lower value to a scientist or an engineer or a doctor than it does to an administrator.”
In 1972 Government of West Bengal had issued one circular in which power of giving Annual Confidential Report of the Executive Engineer was vested to the District Magistrate. State Engineers Association protested strongly against such types of destructive order and forced the government to withdraw that order.
After independence due to enhanced development activities different engineering departments were formed along with several associations for engineers for different department. Senior members of State Engineers Associations thought for forming one federation for different engineering associations for unified struggle. Federation of Engineers & Technical Officers (FAETO) of Associations West Bengal was in the year 1970. Under the banner of FAETO Confederation of doctors and engineers placed three point demands to the government.
1. Appointment of Technical Officers as Head of the Technical Departmentsand Public Undertakings.
The Government of West Bengal constituted a 9-Man Committee in 1973 headed by Sri Amitabha Niyogi to examine 3-point demands of Engineers. In spite of the majority opinion of the Committee having gone in favour of the demands the Government did not take any action on the same. After failing to convince the Government the Engineers and Doctors jointly went for an agitation culminating in total stoppage of work for 41 days from 21.2.1974 to 2.4.1974, The cease-work was called off after the assurance of the then Chief Minister Sri S. S. Ray. One committee under the chairmanship of Ajoy Mukherjee was formed to look the grievances of FAETO. No fruitful achievement was achieved perhaps due to political turmoil.
|Left front government who was then in opposition supported the movement of FAETO in 1974. In 1977 Left Front Government formed the government in West Bengal. On 30.6.1977, Sri Jyoti Basu, the new Chief Minister assured the engineers that he was aware of ”long pendency of the issues” and would solve them “with priority”. Later on, he requested the engineers to take up their case with the “2nd State Pay Commission” constituted in 1978 and asked the Commission to consider the issues vide Finance Department’s Memo No. 96/FS Dated 3.5.1978. But the 2nd State Pay Commission failed to consider the 3-point demands of Engineers.
In 1983 the Government constituted an Administrative Reforms Committee headed by Dr. Ashok Mitra, Ex-Finance Minister of State. In its report the Committee recommended as follows :
“The Committee would recommend that in departments whose functions and activities have a strong technical bias, the dichotomy between the Department and the directorate be removed. In all such cases, it is also further desirable that, the technical head, whether already holding the position of Ex-Officio Secretary or otherwise, should be formally designated as Secretary to the Department, and the practice of having two secretaries abolished. Such re-arrangements could cover the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Public Works Department, the Department. of Irrigation & Waterways, the Department of Environment, Sanitation & Water-Supply, the Department of Animal Husbandry and conceivably, the Department of Development & Planning.” (Para 8.4, P-10).
Although the Government had accepted the recommendation, it is yet to implement the same excepting two departments only.
Finding no justice the engineers again went for another spell of agitation culminating in 112 day long cease-work from 6.8.1986 to 25.11.1986. The cease-work was called off through mediation of Dr. Shankar Sen, Vice-Chancellor of Jadavpur University. Dr.Sen, vide his letter No. V2/3417B/2/86 Dated 17.11.1986 informed about the specific assurances of the Chief Minister, Shri Jyoti Basu that he would settle their various demands through meeting with the delegation of FAETO. In 1986 to curve the movement of the engineers Left Front Government introduced derogatory humiliating black rule “Public Works Department Rule”. Till date even after several requests such rule has not been lifted.