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April 22, 2024 2:22 pm

Remembering last of the Lahore educated old guard Chief Engineer Mr. Bikram Singh Grewal on his 101st birthday

Harjap Singh Aujla
Harjap Singh Aujla

One of the finest technical educational institutions in North Western India, the Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh
(PEC), celebrates its annual day in the second week of each year. The alumni of this institution meet every year under an umbrella organization Punjab Engineering College Old Students Association popularly known as PECOSA. Every year on the annual day one old student of its parent institution, the McLaggan College of Engineering Lahore, Mr. BikramSingh Grewal, Retired Chief Engineer of Punjab Public Works Department Buildings and Roads Branch used to be the main attraction. He was also looking forward to the annual day every year. Last year he turned 100 year old and was given the life-long achievements award. This year, we were all looking forward to greet him for his longevity, but unfortunate he left this world on December 31, 2023. All our hopes to honor him again were left unfulfilled. His birthday falls on February 15th. This short write up is in his remembrance.    

Retired Chief Engineer of Punjab Public Works DepartmentBuildings and Roads Branch (CE PWD B&R Punjab) Mr. Bikram Singh Grewal was born in a nondescript dusty village called Lalton in Ludhiana district of the Malwa region of Punjab on February 15, 1923. Being exceptionally good in his studies, he passed his matriculation examination conducted by the Punjab University Lahore in first division.  

Being exceptionally high in merit, young Bikram Singh Grewal got admission in the Khalsa College Amritsar in Faculty of Science Non – Medical category. After passing FScdiploma with high merit, he applied for admission in the McLagan College of Engineering in Lahore. This was the only engineering college in entire North Western India then. He passed out in the “Class of 1943” as a graduate in Civil Engineering. Soon afterwards in 1944, he got selected for the post of Sub Divisional Engineer in the Government of Punjab, Department of Public Works Buildings and roads Branch. His first posting was at Narowal (which is a district head-quarter town now) in the then Sialkot District of Lahore Division. As a Sub Divisional Engineer, he used to travel on a bicycle to inspect the roads and buildings projects. After about six years he was promoted to the title of an Executive Engineer. As the Executive Engineer of Rupar (now Ropar), he built two of the oldest wings of the Punjab Engineering College Chandigarh(successor of McLagan College of Engineering Lahore).

While being posted as the Executive Engineer in Amritsar, he got constructed two wings of the Government Medical College Amritsar. Again after getting posted at Patiala, he got built a couple of wings of the Government Medical College Patiala. Once again while posted as the Executive Engineer at Hissar, he got a wing of Rohtak Medical College constructed. After the creation of Haryana in November of 1966, he got posted to Punjab.

His next promotion was to the title of a Superintending Engineer, in which again he served with distinction. By this time, his credentials as a scrupulously honest, no nonsense,officer became a well known fact. On several occasions the corrupt elements in his department got united to wage a persistent propaganda war against him. Undeterred by the nefarious activities of his detractors, Bikram Singh Grewalstood firmly by his lofty principles. Eventually all the conspiracies against him collapsed like a pack of cards and he became the hero of the group of officers with impeccable integrity.

In 1971, Er. Bikram Singh Grewal was promoted to the title of a chief engineer. On this title, he served for another ten years. In 1981 he retired from the service. A fitness freak, hewas a keen golfer, who used to play it in the Chandigarh Golf Club for six days a week. He lived a full of achievements life for nearly one hundred and one years and died in the early hours (2:20 am to be precise) on 31st of December 2023. A year ago during the Annual Alumni Day of PEC, the Punjab Engineering College Old Students Association (PECOSA) honored him with life – time achievements award, which he deserved amply. He was my chief engineer, when I was serving as the “executive engineer works” in the PWD B&R at Patiala. It was a real pleasure to serve under him. Now losing him is even more painful. The present Director of the PEC during the Annual Alumni Day function held on February 10th 2024, told me that Mr. Grewal lived his life to the fullest, we should celebrate his life rather than mourning his loss.

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