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Remembering an upright officer

Remembering  an upright officer

Bikram Singh Grewal (third from left). File photo



Harjap Singh Aujla

Bikram Singh Grewal, a former chief engineer in the Public Works Department (PWD, buildings and roads branch), Punjab, passed away at the age of 100 on December 31, 2023. He was born in Lalton Kalan village of Ludhiana district on February 15, 1923. Exceptionally good in studies, he passed the matriculation examination conducted by the University of Punjab, Lahore, in the first division.

Grewal got admission in Khalsa College, Amritsar, in the non-medical stream. After getting the FSc (fellow of science) diploma, he applied for admission in MacLagan College of Engineering, Lahore. This was the only engineering college in north-western India at that time. He passed out in 1943 as a graduate in civil engineering. A year later, he was recruited as a subdivisional engineer (SDE) in the PWD. His first posting was at Narowal (which is a district headquarters now) in Sialkot district of Lahore division. As an SDE, he travelled on a bicycle to inspect building and road projects. About six years later, he was promoted as an executive engineer. Two of the oldest wings of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh — a successor to MacLagan College of Engineering, Lahore — were built under his supervision when he was the executive engineer, Ropar.

During his postings in Amritsar and Patiala, he oversaw the construction of two wings each of the government medical colleges in both cities. While posted in Hisar, he got a wing of the medical college constructed. After the creation of Haryana in November 1966, he was transferred to Punjab.

By the time he became a superintending engineer, he had gained a reputation as a scrupulously honest, no-nonsense officer. On several occasions, the corrupt elements in his department joined hands to wage a persistent propaganda war against him. Undeterred by the activities of his detractors, Grewal stood firm on his lofty principles. Eventually, all conspiracies against him collapsed like a house of cards and he became popular as an officer with impeccable integrity.

In 1971, Grewal was promoted to the rank of chief engineer. He served on this post for a decade before retiring in 1981. A fitness freak, he was a keen golfer who used to play at the Chandigarh Golf Club six days a week. A year ago, the Punjab Engineering College Old Students’ Association honoured him with the lifetime achievement award, which he amply deserved. He was the chief engineer when I was serving as the executive engineer (works) in the PWD in Patiala. It was a privilege to work under him. Grewal lived life to the fullest. We should celebrate his life rather than mourning his loss.


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