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During the period of the British rule in this subcontinent, in 1786 a Military Board was set up to look after all public work matters at that time.
Later on the Government decided to establish the Public Works Department in the year 1854. At that time PWD was responsible for the construction of roads, buildings, railways as well as flood control, irrigation and military works. With the partitioning of India and Pakistan in 1947, the responsibility of construction work for the Central Government of Pakistan was vested in the Central PWD. The Communication and Building Directorate (C&B), which existed at the time, was entrusted with all construction work for the Provincial Government of the then East Pakistan.
After the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, the country inherited two separate organizations for the construction and maintenance of Government Buildings: the Central PWD and the Buildings Directorate of the Provincial Government. These two entities were merged into one department in 1977 to form the present Public Works Department (PWD).
The infrastructural growth of Bangladesh includes the development of urban and growth centers, housing, railways, highways, roads and road structures, ports and harbours, airports, drainage and navigational canals, gas pipelines, water supply and sanitation facilities.
Beginning its journey in 1854 with the responsibility of forging an architectural framework for the sub-continent, the PWD has experience dating back two centuries. The organization's construction work is directly connected to the national programme of development and reconstruction.
The Public Works Department is responsible for the construction of infrastructure along with providing service to 24 ministries. It is one of eight executing organs in the Ministry of Housing and Public Works. It is also the Government's biggest construction agency.
The various works programmes of the Public Works Department and its span of work are not confined to the urban areas only. They reach into distant district headquarters, remote villages, near borderlands and even the largely inaccessible parts of the country. The result is that where life was once dull and monotonous it has now been boosted by unprecedented progress in the implementation of a diversity of projects. In many instances, communication was not as convenient as it is nowadays. Still, with the aid of thousands of working hands, the Department has left no stone unturned in giving a more than satisfactory service to the nation. Being an entity within a developing country, the Department has been performing its task with a high degree of innovation, minimal expense and maximum workmanship.
The PWD has countless examples illustrating this work ethic. Its dedicated staff has contributed in no small measure in shaping what the PWD is today. The workers are to be considered both as partners and performers.