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:

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
Maharaja’s College (Mysore) 1894
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
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
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