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«‘’A history of the progress and development of the Lahore Electric Supply Company over a period of First twenty-eight years.’’ Lahore ...»

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The Lahore Electric Supply Company

Limited, Lahore


‘’A history of the progress and development of the Lahore Electric

Supply Company over a period of First twenty-eight years.’’

Lahore Electric Supply Company Limited

Board of Directors

1- Rai Bahadur Lala Sohan Lal,M.L.A.-Chairman

2- Dewan Bahadur Dewan Krishna Kishore Dahriwala

3- L.Mulk Raj Aggarwal

4- Mr. Rajendra Kumar Jain

5- Dewan Hari Krishna Das 6- Mr. shriyans Prasad Jain 7- L. Sardari Lal Subsidiary Companies of The Lahore Electric supply Company, Limited.


Board of Directors Chairman

1. Rai Bahadur Lala Sohan Lal, M.L.A.


2. Nawab Sir Liaqat Hyat Khan, K.B.E., K.B.

3. Sir William Roberts, Kt., C.I.E., M.L.A

4. Nawab Muzaffar Khan, C.I.E., K.B., M.L.A.

5. Dewan Bahadur Dewan Krishna Kishore Dahriwala

6. Mr. Rajendra Kumar Jain

7. Sardar Bahadur Sardar Ujjal Singh,M.L.A

8. Mr. Shriyans Prasad Jain

9. Lala Sardari Lal

10. Dewan Hari Krishna Dass

11. Lala Mulk Raj Aggarwal Farrukhabad Electric Supply Company Limited (United Provinces) Board of Directors Chairman

1. Rai Bahadur Lala Sohan Lal, M.L.A


2. Sir J.P. Srivastava, Kt., M.L.A.

3. Dewan Bahadur Dewan Krishna Kishore Dahriwala

4. Mr. Rajendra Kumar Jain

5. Lala Mulk Raj aggarwal

6. Lala Sardari Lal

7. Mr. M.R. Kohli, M.A., F.I.B (London) Peshawar Electric Supply Company, Limited Board of Directors Chairman

1. Rai Bahadur Lala sohan Lal, M.L.A.


1. Rai Bahadur Lala sohan Lal, M.L.A

2. Dewan Bahadur Dewan Krishna Kishore Dahriwala

3. Lala Mulk Raj Aggarwal

4. Mr. K.M. Aslam, Advocate

5. Rai Bahadur Lala Ram Nath Lambah, Municipal Commissioner Sialkot Electric Supply Company, Limited Board of Directors Chairman

1. Rai Bahadur Lala sohan Lal, M.L.A.


2. Dewan Bahadur Dewan Krishna Kishore Dahriwala

3. Mr. Rajendra Kumar Jain

4. Rai Bahadur Dewan Charan Das, Advocate

5. Lala Nagina Lal Jain, Pleader Larkana Electric supply company Limited(Sind) Board Of Directors

–  –  –

2. Lala Mulk Raj aggarwal

3. Dewan Hari Krishna Das

4. Mr. K.M. Panjabi, Public Prosecutor

5. Mr. T.M Sipi, Accountant, District Local Board

–  –  –

Power House Supdt., Mr. D.D. Sharma, B.Sc, Civil & Electrical (Bristol), A A.I.E.E. (America) Lahore A.M.I.E. (India) (First Class engineer)

–  –  –

Executive Engineer Lahore Mr. S.A Prabbu, B.Sc (Benares), B.Sc, London Executive Engineer L Ram Das Kalra, A.I.E.E (London) A.A.I.E.E. (America)

–  –  –

Supdt. Maintenance & S. Prehlad singh Distribution Deptt.

Supdt, Line Construction S.N. Jassawala, Esq.

Department Supdt Sub-stations. S. Chanchal singh L.E.E. (Bombay)

–  –  –

This is the story of an idea; the story of the Lahore Electric supply Company over a Period of twentyeight years and behind the facts and figures which make up that story, is an exclusive tale of endurance, of struggle against great odds, and of final achievement. It is a tale of progress in a comparatively unprogressive land; and in the pages that follow is described how new light was given to the people of the Punjab- the oil lamp, the candle and the lantern were eliminated, how the ‘’Punkah’’ said last farewell, and above all how came in the industrial development with the help of that greatest of all scientific marvels—ELECTRICITY.



The advent of electricity in Indi was heralded by the Darjeeling Municipality in 1897 by the installation of a hydro-electric generating plant. For this purpose they secured the services of the Late Mr. J.W.

Meares, who later rose to be the Electric advisor to the Government of India. The example set by Bengal’s summer capital moved the two presidency towns to undertake the venture, but it was not till 10 years later that the movement was initiated there to replace the old oil lamp. It was also about this time that the proposal to bring electricity to Lahore was first mooted. Several firms thought of undertaking the venture but for one reason or the other they all gave up the idea.

The Lahore Municipality then interested itself and a scheme was drawn up for them by a British firm.

Kennedy and Jenkins of Westminster. The total cost of the scheme was estimated to be $35, for meeting a demand of 8,500 lights and 1,600fans only. It involved the construction of two power stations, one near Robert Road and the other at Charing Cross. The City fathers were divided on this issue, some favoring the electrification of the civil area first and others favoring the walled city area. The Municipality, however, considered the scheme expensive and eventually dropped it


The Punjab Government, however, were anxious to introduce electricity in the province and despairing of any one coming forward to undertake such a scheme, they took the initiative of installing small generating plants in some of their buildings in Lahore. One plant was installed in the Government House, another in the Secretariat, a third in the Central Jail and one on the Mall for supplying some buildings there and the Montgomery Hall. Nedou’s Hotel, Charing Cross Hotel (now the Falettis Hotel) and the Punjab Club quickly followed suit. The plants how-ever proved more of an anxiety than a convenience on account of the attention they required and unreliability of supply.


After their short experience of these small ‘’ ghar ka bijlighars’’ the Government threw up the sponge and advertised for tenders to supply electricity to Government buildings. They also gave the assurance that the successful tenderer would be granted a licence to supply electricity to the town of Lahore. The advertisement which appeared in a local newspaper on September 25, 1910 read as follows;’ELECTRIC LIGHTING OF LAHORE.’’ ‘’ Tenders are invited from registered companies for the concession for the supply of electric power for lights and fans in Government Buildings at Lahore. Full particulars can be obtained from the Sanitary Engineer to Government, Punjab, P.W.D., Lahore. Tenders will be received up to Ist March, 1911.’’ Among the tenderers, first and foremost was the Lahore Municipality, undeterred by the fate of its previous venture. Firms of experience, like the Dehli Electric Tramways and Lighting Co., Ltd. (now Known as the Delhi Electric Supply & Traction Co., Ltd.) Messrs. Balmer Lawrie & Co., Messrs. Octavius Steel Co., and a few other British firms also entered the field.


The Delhi Electric Tramways and Lighting Company, Limited being engaged in a similar business, had the best chance of securing the licence; but for reason best known to the London Office of that company, they decided to withdraw. Lala Harkishen Lal was at the time a director of the Local Board of the Delhi Electric Tramways and Lighting Company, Limited. When the decision of the London office of that company became known to him on February, 24, 1911, only four days were left for the submission of tenders. With his characteristic genius for quick decision, Lala Harkishen Lal decided t o take up the matter and for purpose associated himself with the Hon’ble Mr.James Currie, of Messrs. James Currie & Co., who was the founder of the Punjab Chamber of Commerce and was also a director of the Delhi Electric Tramways & Lighting Company, Limited


A tender was immediately drawn up and submitted in the name of Lala Harkishen Lal’s ank, the (old) people ‘s Bank of India, Ltd. Advantage was taken of the scheme worked out by the Delhi Electric Tramways and Lighting Company, Limited. A copy of the tender is given in Appendix I. An interesting feature of the tender was the penalty proposed by the government for a failure of supply of over 15 minutes duration. The penalty ranged from Rs. 25 to Rs. 200 for every failure after the first five failures.

Such conditions are unheard of in these days. They were persumably based on the unhappy experience of the government in working their small generating plants.

–  –  –

GENTLEMAN, With reference to your letter dated 28th February, 1911, to the sanitary Engineer to Government, Punjab, P.W.D.,I have the honor to inform you that your tender for the supply of electric power and light to the Lahore Municipality has been accepted by the Secretary to Government, Punjab, P.W.D. Buildings and Roads Branch vide his letter No. 333 G.S. of 29th June, 1911, to the Superintending Engineer, Third Circle, Lahore. You should now apply to the Local Government in the Civil Department for the grant of a licence within one month of date of acceptance, vide clause 23 of your tender.

–  –  –

One of the conditions of the tenders invited by the Punjab Government, was that the successful tenderer should take over the generating plant belonging to the Government would not sell the plant, but would hire out mains and poles to the licensee, if they so desired.


The promoters then made efforts to negotiate for the purchase of a suitable plant. In December, 1911, an offer for the sale of a complete electric generating plant, then in use at Delhi Durbar, was made by the Executive Engineer, Lower Bari Doab Canal, Balloki to Lal Harkishen Lal. The negotiations for this were completed at Delhi on December 23, 1911, between Lala Harkishen Lal and the Irrigation Branch of the Punjab Government. The total cost of the entire plant, which was installed for the Delhi Durbar held in 1911, amounted to Rs. 1,61,107. This consisted of four Bellis and Morcom triple expansion steamengine generating sets of 150 Kilowatts each, four Babcock and Wilcox Patent marine type water tube boilers, together with all necessary auxiliaries. The plaint was of the latest type in those days, the boiler pressure being 160 lb. and the engine speed of 500 revolutions per minute being about the maximum that could with safety be used at that time.

As soon as the Durbar was over, the plant was taken over by the People’s Bank. Land for the power house and office was obtained on lease from the Public Works Department in its compound on Mcleod Road. (This land containued to be the focus of the entire working of the company for about a decade and a half, after which the increasing volume of the Company’s work obliged it to acquire moer accommodation. It still houses the technical offices of the company as well as the Mcleod Road substation, and also remnants of the old power house, which are still kept in perfect working condition).

The electric lines and poles then existing on the Mall and belonging to the Government were also purchased by the Bank for Rs. 17,000. The erection of the machinery and distribution mains was then taken in hand in anticipation of the grant of the licence, under the guidance and supervision of Mr.

James Jensen in consultation with Mr. J.S Pitkeathely (now Sir James Scott Pitkeathely, K.C.I.E, C.M.G, C.V.O, C.B.E, D.S.O, M.I.M.E, A.M.I.E.E., M.I.E, (Ind.), both of the Delhi Durbar staff.

–  –  –

R.B.L Ram Saran Das R.B Lala Mohan Lal R.S.L. Balmukand R.S.L Niranjan Dass K.S.M Seraj Din, and Lala Mool Chand Mr. James Jensen was appointed the General Manager.

The Company had also the benefit of the advice of Mr. J.G.Griffin, General Manager of the Delhi Electric Tramways and Lighting Company Ltd. The was the author of the original scheme for the electrification of Lahore, prepared in the first instance, for his own principals. He continued to evince active interest in this Company for many years.


While construction jobs were proceeding apace, the application for the licence was wending its way through the tortuous path of official routine. The company, animated by the optimistic spirit which had made it rush in where experienced and wealthy engineering firms had feared to tread, asked for a licence for 50 years, the maximum period allowed under the law. The Government, however, would agree to a grant of the licence for 30 years only. The reasons assigned for the decision were significant.

It was said that “His Honour the lieutenant Governor is unable at present to extend the period of 30 years entered in clause 5 (1) line 6 of the draft licence. But if, at any time, it is contemplated t o alter the nature of the present source of supply, and largely extend operations, the Directors should then approach the Local Government with a view to securing an extension of the term now proposed.” With this decision the Company had to rest content and the licence was granted to them.



The construction of the equipment having been completed, supply was commenced on November, 18 1912 though the grant of the licence was not formally gazette till full seven days later. (A copy of the Punjab Government Gazette Notification dated November 25, 1912, will be found in Appendix II). The opening ceremony was performed in the Gol Bagh by the then Lieutenant Governor, His Honour Sir Louis Dane. The gardens lights, a unique spectacle for the citizens of Lahore.

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