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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 4, p. 307.

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IRRIGATION, Railways, and Roads have already been dealt
with under their economic aspect in Vol. III. The present
chapter is mainly concerned with the agency by which these
and other undertakings falling within the sphere of the Indian
Public Works Department are carried out and supervised.
Public Works in India fall naturally into three classes, Build- Threemain
ings and Roads, Irrigation, and Railways. Military, as distinct classes of
from Civil, buildings make a fourth class, when separately Works.
administered as they are now. The organization of the three Theirearly
main branches originated separately and at different times. A tration.
Military Board in each of the three Presidencies was the first Buildings
recognized authority for works of the first class, which in those andRoads.
days were all of a military character, comprising barracks and
other buildings for troops, and the few military roads that had
been commenced prior to 1850. The history of the Military
Boards is buried in 789 ponderous tomes of manuscript records,
extending from the year I773 to i858, which are stored in the
record-room at Calcutta. Of the Bengal Board the Marquis of
Dalhousie, when Governor-General, recorded that its constitu-
tion was faulty, its duties far too onerous, and its work badly
done in consequence. The idea of dissociating the Public
Works business from the Board of the Bengal Presidency,
which eventually led to the extinction of all three Military
Boards, was probably aided by the success that attended the
experiment of creating a department for Public Works in the
newly acquired Province of the Punjab. This was in 1849, and
the first Chief Engineer of the new department was Lieutenant-
Colonel Napier, afterwards Lord Napier of Magdala. In the
following year a Commission appointed by order of the Court
of Directors reported conclusively against the system of the
Military Board in Bengal, and suggested that each Local
Government should control its own Public Works, civil and
military, under certain limitations, with the aid of a Chief
Engineer and a staff of Superintending, Executive, and Assistant

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