[14 March 2024] The Hindu Op-ed: The Karnataka civil engineers Bill, its pathway

Mains PYQ Relevance:

Major cities of India are becoming vulnerable to flood conditions. Discuss. (2015)

Discussion the various social problems which originated out of the speedy process of urbanization in India. (2013)


Mains: Social Issues; Governance; Urbanization;

Mentor comments: The Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed the Karnataka Professional Civil Engineers Bill, 2024 to allow only registered engineers to approve building plans ensuring that they will be accountable for any eventualities. In light of this, the registration of professional Civil Engineers, standards of professional conduct, code of ethics and etiquette for professional civil engineers are connected. Although it’s State news, we need to look at this news because India, one of the most populated countries, has grappled with many issues related to Urbanization and unplanned cities for decades. 

Let’s learn. 

Why in the News?

Recently, the Karnataka Legislative Assembly passed the Karnataka Professional Civil Engineers Bill, 2024 to allow only registered engineers to approve building plans ensuring that they will be accountable for any eventualities.

Provisions of the Karnataka Professional Civil Engineers Bill, 2024:

Aim: To improve professionalization and construction standards by requiring only certified civil engineers to offer engineering designs. However, this approach may create confusion, become restrictive, and remain out of sync with best practices

The Bill establishes the following key aspects:

Defining a civil engineer:
Anyone with a diploma or a degree in a civil engineering discipline in India or abroad can qualify as a civil engineer. Those with Degrees need 1 year of experience; those with Diplomas require 2 years of experience;

Must be registered with the Karnataka Council of Professional Civil Engineers within 1 year from the date of commencement of the Act. In addition, they should obtain a certificate to become a ‘professional civil engineer’ in Karnataka.

Listing engineering designs and Restricting who can offer engineering design services: Only professional civil engineers can offer engineering designs (civil, structural, geotechnical, and environmental).Instructing how to ensure compliance;

Instructing how to ensure compliance:

Firstly, the Bill insists that any building more than 50 square meters in plinth area or taller than the ground floor or not built with a load-bearing masonry structure.

Secondly, a group housing project with more than three buildings must be supervised or executed or certified only by professional civil engineers.

Thirdly, strict gate-keeping is imposed by instructing government authorities not to permit construction unless registered professional civil engineers certify designs and drawings.

On Reservation:
Out of all tenders not exceeding One Crore rupees, 4% of tenders are reserved for Category 1 Castes and 15% of tenders are reserved for Category 2A castes.

What is the current dilemma w.r.t to Karnataka Professional Civil Engineers Bill, 2024?

  • Overlap and Left-out: Despite overlaps between professional services in the building industry, the Bill restrictively defines engineering designs, potentially leading to confusion.
    • This is baffling because the SC also pointed out difficulties in a comparable situation involving ‘architects’, the bill has refused to include related professionals from offering overlapping services.
  • Silent on licensing requirements: The Karnataka Bill seeks absolute protection of services, but it falls short of licensing requirements and would benefit from tightening the certification process.
    • It is probably for this reason that the Gujarat Professional Civil Engineers Act, 2006, which is similar, is restrained in its scope.
  • Undermined with Global experiences: Many countries are cautious about regulations that restrict competition and support self-regulation of professions. Global practices suggest that protecting professional titles through rigorous processes and mandating high academic standards and experience is more effective than restricting services.

What can we learn from Global practices?

  • Need to work on self-regulation of professions: Recalling a study on engineering licensing and professional practice across several countries would be worthwhile. Because there is no hard evidence that tight engineering licensure provides economic gains to societies.
  • Need to avoid Extra Ring-fencing of Restrictions: Many professional council’s across the world, aware of these complexities, have not tried to ring-fence their services. Instead, they take the alternative and effective route of protecting titles such as ‘chartered engineer or architect’ by establishing a rigorous process that demands high academic standards and experience.
  • Need for better peer interviews or examinations: Through this, users will come to know that professional titles are not offered lightly, and only the competent ones earn them. Users can be convinced by the credibility of the collective, and voluntarily seek certified professionals.
Case Study:

The Engineering Council in the UK clarifies that there are no restrictions on practicing as an engineer. However, it protects titles offered to the qualified and those who pass professional reviews. Only a limited number of high-risk constructions, such as reservoir design and road tunnel safety regulations, are reserved for licensed persons. In comparison, the Karnataka Bill seeks an absolute protection of services and falls short of licensing requirements. There are no examinations and fewer experience requirements in the Bill. It would serve better to tighten the process leading to certification.


The question professional must be decided on an event-to-event basis, locally and based on education, experience, and special knowledge. What would be even better is to resist the demand for professional turfs to control supply. An effective solution would be to influence the demand side by continuously demonstrating the usefulness of professionals and certification.


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