Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Central Public Works Department, India

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Central Public Works Department, India

The Central Public Works Department of India (Hindi: केंद्रीय लोक निर्माण विभाग), commonly referred to as the CPWD, is a central government owned authority in charge of public sector works. The Central Public Works Department, under the Ministry of Urban Development, builds and maintains public buildings. CPWD came into existence in July 1854 when Lord Dalhousie established a central agency for execution of public works and set up Ajmer Provincial Division. It has now grown into a comprehensive construction management department, which provides services from project concept to completion, and maintenance management.


It is headed by the Director General (DG) who is also the Principal Technical Advisor to the Government of India. The incumbent DG is Mr. Abhai Sinha. The regions and sub-regions are headed by Special DGs and Additional DGs respectively, while the zones in all state capitals (except a few) are headed by Chief Engineers. Now A Days, a new post of Chief Project Manager (CPM) has been created to head major prestigious projects of CPWD. CPMs are equivalent to the rank of Chief Engineers in CPWD. With country wide presence, the strength of CPWD is its ability to undertake construction of Complex Projects even in difficult terrains and maintenance in post construction stage.

It is the prime engineering department of Government of union of India and its specifications and manuals are followed by local public works departments and engineering wing of other departments.

CPWD consists of three wings in execution field:

1) B&R (Buildings and Roads)

2) E&M (Electrical and Mechanical)

3) Horticlture

There are three cadres in CPWD:

1) CAS (Central Architecture Services)

2) CES (Central Engineering Services) (केन्द्रिय अभियंत्रिकी सेवाएं)-for Civil Engineers

3) CEMES (Central Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Services) (केन्द्रिय विधुत एवं यात्रिकी अभियंत्रिकी सेवाएं)-for Mechanical & Electrical Engineers

These are Group A Civil Services. (List of all Group A Civil Services: Civil Services of India)

The recruitment as entry level for middle management is made through Architecture Services Examination and Engineering Services Examination conducted by Union Public Service Commission. Only top candidates in ESE get a chance to join CPWD strictly on merit basis. During probation period, the selected candidates undergo rigorous training of 35 weeks at National CPWD Academy situated in Ghaziabad (U.P). which transforms them into competent Architects/Engineers cum bureaucrats. During the normal career progression one rises to Chief Architect/Engineer, then to Additional Director General and further to Special Director General. There is one post of Director General, CPWD who also acts as technical advisor to the Government of India.

The job in CPWD is challenging yet rewarding. With pan India presence, CPWD has been involved in construction of strategically important mega projects all over the country including border areas. CPWD is well known for quality construction and timely completion of projects following which it has huge list of successful projects and departments as well as clients which it has served.


Centralized public works in India can be traced to efforts of Lord Dalhousie and Sir Arthur Cotton in the mid 19th century. Sir Arthur Cotton sums up the early policy of the East India Company rulers thus,

Public works have been almost entirely neglected throughout India. The motto hitherto has been: Do nothing, have nothing done, let nobody do anything. Bear any loss, let the people die of famine, let hundreds of lakhs be lost in revenue for want of water or roads, rather than do anything.

– Arthur Cotton (1854)

Lord Dalhousie established the Central Public Works Department, and irrigation projects were among the earliest to be started.

Public Works Department was formally established in the year 1854 in the sixth year of Lord Dalhousie’s tenure as Governor General. In the minutes of meeting held on 12 July 1854 the Governor General resolved that a central agency be provided by creating an office of Secretary to the Government of India in Department of Public Works. The note recorded by Lord Dalhousie was as under:

“The organization of the Department of Public Works in the Indian Empire will be incomplete unless it shall be provided for the Supreme Government itself come agency by which it may be enabled to exercise the universal control confided to it over public works in India with the best of scientific knowledge with authority and system. The Government of India shall no longer be dependent on expedients, but should be provided with a permanent and highly qualified agency to assist in the direction of this important branch of public affairs. I have, therefore, now to propose that such an agency should be provided by creating an office of the Secretary to Government of India in the Department of Public Works. The person who holds it should always be a highly qualified officer of the Corps of Engineers.”

Colonel W.E. Baker of the Bengal Engineers was accordingly appointed first Secretary to the Department of Public Works, this is the genesis of the Central Public Works Department.

State Public Works Departments in India

  • Karnataka Public Works Department
  • Kerala Public Works Department
  • Tamil Nadu Public Works Department
  • Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department
  • Maharashtra Public Works Department
  • Roads and Buildings Department, Gujarat
  • References

    Central Public Works Department, India Wikipedia