237 Glorious years of Corps of Engineers
Genesis of Corps of Engineers traces back to medieval pioneers, who used to construct "Saps" or trenches, which permitted the breaching of hitherto invincible forts or walled cities. These pioneers came to be known as 'Sappers'. In 1780, raising of two companies as Madras Sappers was first step towards raising of Corps of Engineers, as we know it today. Similar Coys were raised under Bengal and Bombay Presidencies as Bengal and Bombay Sappers respectively. The three hitherto separate Sappers and Miner Groups were merged to form Corps of Engineers on November 18, 1932, which has since been celebrated as Corps of Engineers Day.
True to the motto of 'Sarvatra' or Omnipresent, the Corps provides combat engineering support, develops infrastructure for Armed Forces and DRDO and maintains lines of communications along the vast borders besides providing succour to the populace during natural disasters. There are four pillars of the Corps - Combat Engineering, Military Engineering Service, Military Survey and Border Roads Organisation, through which the assigned charter of duties is executed.
Capability Development Modernisation projections have picked up momentum with contracts for the Dual Tech Mine Detector & 7/12 Ton Tracked Excavator having fructified and Bulk Production Clearance for 5m Short Span Bridge having been accorded. The Combat Engineers are also leading the 'Make-in-India' initiative with the project for 'Upgraded Assault Track Way' becoming the first project to be granted approval under the 'Make' Categorisation of DPP-2016.
Indian Army rescued large number of people and distributed relief material to displaced populace during recent floods in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur. Several columns of the Corps of Engineers were mobilised along with specialised equipment and trained manpower to boost the ongoing rescue and relief works.
(a)   Strategic Railway Link between Bihar and West Bengal was disrupted on August 23, 2017 due to extensive damage to the embankment of two bridges on R Ajhrat in Katihar Dist. A Floating Bridge (BAFH) was launched by 54 Engineer Regiment/417 Engineer Brigade to facilitate repair to the railway bridges.
(b)   Heavy rains washed away the Road Bridge between Araria and Kishanganj. 4 Engineer Regiment/417 Engineer Brigade launched a Bailey Bridge and re-opened the road communication.
(c) 14 Engineer Regiment/54 Infantry Division constructed a 180 feet Bailey Bridge across River Kallada at Enathu, Kerala on April 5, 2017 to restore the arterial connectivity in record time frame. The bridge was inaugurated by Shri P Vijayan, Chief Minister Kerala on April 10, 2017.
A Runway at airport located in Malakal, South Sudan remained non functional due to ongoing civil war in Sudan. The runway has been restored by Indian Army (Corps of Engineers) deployed under UNMISS in August 2017.
Madras Engineer Group won the Best Marching Contingent amongst the Services in the 68th Republic Day Parade on January 26, 2017. Madras Engineer Group was also adjudged as best Marching Contingent during the Army Day Parade held on January 15, 2017.
The Military Engineer Services (MES) is a premier construction agency and one of the pillars of Corps of Engineers of the Indian Army. It is responsible for creating strategic and operational infrastructure, including administrative habitats for all three Services and the associated organisations of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). It is one of the largest construction and maintenance agencies in India with a total annual budget to the tune of approximately Rs 17000 crores.
In the past one year, MES has been able to achieve significant progress in operationally critical projects under 11th Plan infrastructure development for the defence forces in North East. MES has also been entrusted with the construction of the prestigious National War Memorial and National War Museum. The first and important step for selection of a consultant and architect for these National Monuments have been completed. With Government focus on dedicating these monuments to the Nation at the earliest, the core team is already in place and the project is set to commence shortly.
Married Accommodation Project (MAP) was approved by the Government for construction of approximately two lakh houses for Armed Forces over three phases across length and breadth of the country. Approximately one lakh houses have so far been completed out of 1,27,779 sanctioned, in two phases with the balance under construction. 85305 houses will be constructed in third and final phase for which planning is underway.
The quality of construction in the projects executed in MAP Phase II received wide spread appreciation and award of prestigious Central Industrial Development Council (CIDC) Award for Best Construction Project to MAP Jodhpur for year 2016. Many more projects have been shortlisted for Indian Building Congress Award for year 2017.
In order to further improve quality and speed of construction, new technologies are being adopted in MAP Phase III. Government is also considering enhancement of specifications for married accommodation to further improve quality of life of soldiers. It is intended to develop integrated, self sustaining, landscaped mini townships conforming to eco friendly and energy efficient green norms incorporating maximum features of smart city with central facilities preferably in multi story configuration through latest construction technologies.
Border Roads has always played a pivotal role in the arena of operationally critical infrastructure development. These works apart from being strategically significant, have contributed immensely in socio-economical development of remotest areas of our country. These include construction of 52000 km of roads with 590 bridges totalling upto 47700m and 19 airfields in difficult and inhospitable areas. As of now, Border Roads Organisation is working on 832 roads and maintaining five airfields.
Clearing 138 roads during winters to ensure sustained connectivity in high altitude areas and construction and maintenance of the highest motorable road (Khardungla at 18380 ft above MSL), speaks volumes of the dedication and spirit of this organisation.
Sports In line with the mission to win medals at international events, the Corps has always produced outstanding sportsmen for the Indian Army. At Rio Olympics 2016, India's ace shooter Sub Gurpreet Singh, missed podium finish by a whisker & Hav Bhokanal Dattu, achieved the best performance by an Indian Sculler. In addn, Sub Gurpreet Singh was awarded Arjuna Award and Sub/Hony Capt RP Shelke was awarded Dhyan Chand award in 2016. Spr Akash Chikte and R/Nb Sub Suraj Karkera are members of the Indian Hockey team with Akash Chikte being a part of the team which won the Asian Hockey Championship in 2016. Training is underway to achieve a podium finish in Jakarta 2018 and strive for the best ever performance of Sappers in Tokyo Olympics 2020.
Quest for Everest In the quest to conquer Mount Everest, a team of Corps of Engineers scaled Mount Satopanth (height 7075m) in Garhwal Range on October 2, 2017. The team comprised two officers (including a lady officer), one Junior Commissioned Officer and 14 Other Ranks. Mount Everest will be attempted next year for which training has already commenced.
The Sappers, on its 237th year of Raising, rededicate themselves to the Nation and assure of sustained efforts to take their legacy of dedication, hard work and selfless service forward.
- Col Jasdeep Singh
Madras Engineering Group Marching Contingent
In Aid to Civic Authorities
Bridge over River Enathu (Kerala)
Construction of Bridge on R Ajhrat in Katihar Dist
Portable Short Span Bridge
Married Accommodation Project at Jaipur
Runway Works at Campbell Bay
Habitat in High Altitude
Jetty Works at Andaman & Nicobar Islands
Rowing in progress at Army Rowing Node Pune
Climbing Knife Ridge : Mt Satopanth