Need for Legislation

 

We take pride in calling ourselves “Engineers” however, have we ever questioned whether the profession is legally recognised.

The answer is an emphatic NO.

Only professions which are regulated by a legislation and the rules framed thereunder are legal – Advocates, Architects, Chartered Accountants, Doctors, etc.

We could also question that the profession has been in existence for years and is seemingly functioning well, then where is the necessity. However, let us consider a few issues.

Is there an authorised body (association or institution) which has the legal mandate to:

  • take up the issues of the engineers with any Authority?
  • uniformly decide across the country on the qualification, competency and experience requirements of engineers for a particular work?
  • grade engineers based on their qualification, competency, experience and demonstrated capability?
  • direct and monitor that each and every engineer continuously updates knowledge and skills?
  • discipline engineers and bring in accountability and responsibility?
  • regulate entry of foreign professionals and also have a reciprocal arrangement for acceptance of Indian engineers in other countries?
  • restrict the usage of the title and style of “Engineer”?

The answer again in all the cases above is NO.

When that is the state of affairs of the engineering profession what happens to the lakhs of crores of rupees being spent on projects in the country? When the country is getting on to speed for mega construction of infrastructural facilities, power plants, industries, buildings (residential & non-residential), industrial corridors, smart cities, harbours, river cleaning, water conservation & supply, sanitary facilities, waste management, health, education and a host of others to improve lives of the citizens, take them all above the poverty level, and create employment for the ever increasing young work force of the country – how is it ensured that everyone contributes diligently and consistently for sustained growth.

Engineers are essential for any development project in the country. All of them require ENGINEERS of high caliber belonging to different disciplines who are abreast of the latest developments in science and technology in their respective fields.

All these Engineers are available in our country, but we need a mechanism to ensure that those of high caliber can be identified and be given responsibility to take decisions to execute all these tasks.

They also need to be tasked with mentoring the next generation of Engineers so that the country is never in want of them.

Legislation is required in the country to regulate the profession of engineering and create a cadre of engineers of high caliber in all the disciplines in a sustained manner.

Mr. Mahendra Raj

 

Draft Engineers Bill:  Development So Far

 

The need for a strong Scientific and Technological base for development of the country was identified way back in 1958 when a “Scientific Policy Resolution” adopted by the Government of India stated:

The key to national prosperity, apart from the spirit of the people, lies, in the modern age, in the effective combination of the three factors, technology, raw materials and capital, of which the first is perhaps the most important, since the creation and adoption of new scientific techniques can, in fact, make up for a deficiency in natural resources, and reduce the demands on capital. But technology can only grow out of the study of science and its applications.

The resolution develops this thought further and suggests measures to be adopted by the Government to create facilities for Study and Research Work in Science and initiate programmes for Training of Scientific and Technical Personnel to create a strong Scientific and Technological base. Infact the need for such a base is also linked to the history of the IIT system which dates back to 1946 when Sir Jogendra Singh of the Viceroy‘s Executive Council set up a committee whose task was to consider the creation of Higher Technical Institutions for post-war industrial development in India.

Later in 1970 the Government realized that the lack of Consultancy Services was a serious handicap for development of the country.

A committee was set up under the Chairmanship of Shri G.S. Barve with a request to suggest measures which could be adopted to facilitate and expedite the growth of consultancy in various disciplines in the country.

Shri Barve made a number of recommendations, two of the most important of which were formation of one or two Associations of Consulting Engineers which should be given recognition by the Government and the second was to enact legislation for regulation of the profession of engineering.

The Associations of Consulting Engineers were formed but have still to receive recognition from the Government.

Various drafts of the legislation in the form of a draft Engineers Bill were prepared but the enactment has still to see the light of day.

The first draft of the “Engineers Bill” was made some time in 1985 by the Association of Consulting Engineers (India). However, it was only in 1990 that the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) was identified as the nodal Ministry for this bill. In 1991 the Hon’ble Minister of Human Resource Development Shri Raj Mangal Pande directed his Ministry to process the draft Bill.

Since nothing happened; the “Association of Consulting Engineers (India)” and the “National Association of Consulting Engineers India, filed a “Public Interest Litigation” against the Government of India and the MHRD with a request to enact the draft Engineers Bill. While responding to this PIL, MHRD gave an affidavit which was positive. On this assurance the judgment directed the Engineers to form a consensus and go back to the Government with the draft bill.

Since then (i.e., since 2000) all energies of the Engineers have been directed towards achieving this objective.

A confederation of all the Engineering Associations & Societies representing different disciplines was formed and was called “Engineering Council of India” (ECI) under the patronage of the then Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission, Shri K C Pant.

ECI prepared a second draft of the Engineers bill and presented it to MHRD for its review, approval and for processing it further in 2004.

MHRD instead of processing the draft bill presented by ECI, decided to give the responsibility of regulation of the engineering profession to the All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

The Engineering Consultants fought this move of MHRD in the court and won it. The court decreed that AICTE had no mandate to regulate the Profession of Engineering and that a separate body had to be created for that purpose.

MHRD set up a Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. D.P. Aggarwal, a member of the Union Public Service Commission. The Committee had representatives of ECI, CEAI, IE(I) and AICTE.

After a number of meetings this committee produced the third draft of the Engineers Bill in 2005.

In 2007, MHRD also appointed Sh. R.V. Shahi, Retd. Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Power to head another committee, which also had representation of ECI, CEAI, IE(I) etc. and prepared a fourth draft of the Engineers Bill.

The fourth draft was finalized in 2008 and presented to MHRD. This was circulated by MHRD to all the other Ministries and their comments obtained.

On the basis of their comments the fourth draft was modified, finalized and put in the pipe line for presentation to the Parliament and subsequent enactment.

However, somewhere down the line it got stuck since a view was presented that the Royal Charter which was given to the Institution of Engineers (India) was adequate.

A statement was made on the floor of the Parliament that the Engineers Bill was not required and the matter was closed.

After clarifying the issue and great persuasion the draft Engineers Bill was revived and MHRD is currently looking into it.

All the engineers need to push for the legislation so that it becomes a reality.

 

Mr. Mahendra Raj

 

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