History

Journey on the Road to Infrastructure Development

Roads and buildings are ancient in India with the development of civilizations like Harappa and Mohenjadaro. Grand Trunk Road across the country between Peshawar (Khyber pass) in the North West Frontier Province and Calcutta is the famous earliest road in the country built in 1857. Romans were adept in road building and the statement “All roads lead to Rome” meant literally the same.

In Karnataka, prior to 1834, Revenue Officers were in charge of Public Works. In 1834, a Superintendent of Maramat was in charge under the Revenue Department for public works.
In Karnataka (the then Mysore) State, the Public Works Department was created in 1856. By 1856 all District Headquarters were connected to Bangalore by road.

The staff then was

Chief Engineer

1

Assistant Chief Engineer

1

Assistant Engineers

4

Upper Subordinates

11

Lower Subordinates

19

From 1856-1876, the PWD expenditure was Rs.99 lakhs on original works and Rs. 89 lakhs on repair works. In other words, the Plan and Non-Plan expenditure was almost equal.
In Mark Cubbon’s time (1834-1861) roads in the then Mysore State were classified into Imperial, Provincial and Village Roads. In 1897, two Circles, the Western and Eastern were created each with one Superintending Engineer. However in 1909, both the posts were abolished based on the recommendations of the Retrenchment Committee. The First Chief Engineer was Col.C.Bowen BE, and the first CE from Mysore State was Mr.Y.Srinivasa Rao B.A.

Some of the earliest buildings which are continuing to exist and the cost of construction then are presented below:

1867

Bangalore Central Jail

Rs. 46,047

1868

Bowring Hospital, B’lore

Rs. 2,16,454

1879

Government Museum

Rs. 48,335

During fortytwo years from 1881 to 1924 the following were built:

Building

Year

Cost (Rs.)

Public Offices (Bangalore)

1869 –1917

5,95,991

The Central College (Bangalore)

1882-1924

5,44,599

Maharaja’s College (Mysore)

1894

2,08,000

Public Offices (Mysore)

1895

1,75,506

Victoria Hospital ( Bangalore)

1896

7,84,000

Law Court Buildings (Mysore)

1899

21,470

The Sir Sheshadri Memorial Hall (Bangalore)

1907

83,624

The Chamarajendra Technical Institute (Mysore)

1917

2,44,516

Minto Opthalmic Hospital (Bangalore)

1917

2,82,000

The Government High School (Bangalore)

1917

1,55,502

Krishnarajendra Hospital (Mysore)

1918

3,65,000

University Buildings (Mysore)

1920-22

2,41,262

Vanivilas Institute (Bangalore)

 

69,567

Fernhill Palace, Ooty

 

4,78,000

In 1922 the salary of Engineers in Mysore was:

Chief Engineer

Rs.500

Assistant Chief Engineer

Rs.250

Upper Subordinate

Rs. 80

But, for 1 Rupee 4.5 seer rice and 10.3 seer ragi was available (i.e. for Re.1, 5 kg rice and 12 kg ragi); today for 1 kg rice, the price is Rs 15 to 20 and 1 kg ragi, it is Rs.8.
In 1930, the State had Provincial road length of 212 miles (341 km) and District road length of 458 miles (737 km)

In 1956, at the time of the reorganization of Mysore State, the road length was as given below:

Category of Road

Length (kms)

National Highways

864

State Highways

5,983

Major District Roads

7,006

Other District Roads

5,951

Village Roads

2,373

TDB Roads

19,222

Forest Department Roads

1,783

Total

43,182

Source: Statistical Abstract of Mysore 1960-61
Bureau of Economics & Statistics, Government of Mysore 1963
Scroll to Top