About Consulting Engineering


Consulting engineering is a professional service that provides basic, detailed engineering and construction monitoring/ supervision services for all types of project to diverse nature of clients – governments, lenders, private companies/ owners, industries, developers or contracting companies. Pure consulting engineers are independent of any association with suppliers/ vendors, fabricators/ erectors and contractors so as to ensure that their services are unbiased.

The consulting engineering profession has come of age in India after over 5 decades of struggle and now their services are engaged by small and large clients. Some of the consultants have been engaged directly by multi -lateral lending agencies both national and international such as The World Bank (WB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), United Kingdom – Department for International Development (DFID), United States – United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Indian financial institutions, nationalised and private banks. Indian consultants are being engaged by the multi lateral funding agencies and others in competition with consultants from developed countries.

The consulting engineering profession in India has also attained world class standards in providing services for multi-disciplinary complex and large projects as is evident from the large number of consultants working on projects abroad either from their home office or a project office abroad.

Indian Consultants are usually engaged for ability to provide appropriate and cost effective solutions, world class standards and their ability to adapt and transfer the technology and designs for execution of new projects or for expansion of existing projects.

India has a large number of consultancy companies both in the public as well as the private sectors apart from individual consultants. It is estimated that there are about 7,000 individual consultants and about 10,000 companies involved in the consultancy work. These large companies cover almost every engineering discipline and are doing complex projects for sectors such nuclear and space.

The requirement of engineering consultancy services for projects within India has grown multi-fold due to large investments in all sectors. Government’s funding is ofcourse the maximum in the infrastructure sector. This development has been useful in acquisition and absorption of new technologies and up-gradation of skills. These investments have also attracted a number of foreign consultancy companies to set-up Indian subsidiaries.

Generally, the services provided by consulting engineers may be grouped under following headings:

  • Pre-Project Stage
    Feasibility Studies
    Master Plans
    Technical Evaluation Studies
  • Detailed Project Reports
    Advisory Services
    Business Plans
    Training / Knowledge Transfer
    Management Services
    Technical Assistance
    Renovation & Modernisation (R&M) Studies
    Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Studies
    Due Diligence Studies
  • Project Stage
    Detailed Design & Engineering
    Tender Specifications & Tender Documents
    Procurement Assistance
    Inspection & Expediting
    Construction Monitoring/ Supervision
    Project Management
    Quality Management
    Health, Safety & Environment (HSE)
    Assistance during Commissioning
  • Post-Project Stage
    Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Consultancy

Apart from the market in India, Indian consultants have been also exporting engineering consultancy services for projects in other countries notably to South East Asia, Africa and Middle East. There is substantial revenue growth in the export sector.

Training of professionals is organised by engineering associations on a regular basis so that they keep abreast of technological and skill developments in their areas

The engineering consultancy profession is suffering from lack of regulatory mechanism and this issue needs to be addressed immediately by the government. The engineering associations have been pursuing with the government for the legislation for engineers for many years but it is still pending with the Ministry of Human Resources. For strengthening the hands of the professional engineers it is necessary to have the legislation at the earliest.

Indian consultants are contributing their mite in the sustainable development of new projects keeping in view the environmental considerations.

The Consulting Engineers Association of India (CEAI) comprises of about 450 members both individual and corporate bodies. CEAI was formed in 1996 after merger of two associations i.e. National Association of Consulting Engineers and Association of Consulting Engineers. CEAI is the only body in India affiliated to the international body of consulting engineers – FIDIC.

CEAI has been engaged in providing professional assistance to its members as well as conducting training and professional up-gradation course and seminars.


Contributed by Mr. Sudhir Dhawan

14 November, 2014



The genesis of Indian Engineering Consultancy Services dates back to the period soon after independence, when the country embarked upon a programme of planned industrial development. In the early 50’s projects in India were implemented on a turn-key basis by overseas engineering organizations with little involvement of Indian Consultants. However, it was soon realized that utilization of indigenous design and engineering capabilities was the key to the industrial development of the country. A few engineering consultancy organizations were set up in late 50s / early 60s including but not limited to M N Dastur, Development Consultants, Chattered Stein & Polk and Bhagwati & Kumbhani.

Recognising the important role that the consultancy firms had to play in the development of the country as a whole, an expert panel set up by the Planning Commission, suggested in early 70’s, that an all India body of consulting engineers should be set up to foster healthy growth of the profession in the country. At the initiative of Mr. M.S. Pathak, the-then Member – Planning Commission, a meeting of consulting engineers together with some senior officials from Planning Commission, Ministry of Industry & Development and Development Banks was called in Bombay and held in the conference hall of ICICI some time in late 1975. The meeting was well-attended by about 30 consulting engineers from various companies including but not limited to the following:

  • Chemical & Metallurgical Design Co. Ltd
  • Dalal Consultants & Engineers Ltd
  • Development Consultants Ltd
  • Engineering Projects (India) Ltd
  • Engineers India Ltd Holtec Consulting Pvt. Ltd
  • Lurgi India Co. Pvt. Ltd. M N Dastur & Co. Ltd.
  • Metallurgical & Engineering Consultants (India) Ltd
  • National Industrial Development Corporation Ltd


Mr. M.S. Pathak chaired the meeting and mooted the idea of formation of an association of consulting engineers at the national level, which was welcomed by everyone.

The signatories to the formation of the association and its memorandum and articles of association were 15 leading consulting engineering firms.

Subsequently Mr. R.V. Raman, the-then Secretary, Industrial Development, Government of India, took charge of the work related to the formation and registration of the association and in early 1976 the National Association of Consulting Engineers (NACE) was born with Mr. R.V. Raman himself as the first President of the association. Mr. Raman after about 2 years handed over the charge to Mr. Kan Mariwalla of NIDC, who took over as the President for a term of 2 years. The others to take over the mantle subsequently were Dr. Tuhin Roy : Chem-Met, Mr. Umesh Shrivastava : Holtec Consulting and Mr. S. Palande : Humphreys & Glasgow. Others to follow as President included but not limited to Mr. S. Chatterjee : MECON, Mr. Sudhir Dhawan : CES, Mr. M.W. Goklany : DESEIN, Mr. S. Ghosh : CES etc.

From inception of NACE till CDC moved into India Habitat Centre, NACE was functioning in association with AIEI (now CII) and operated from their office in Jorbagh, New Delhi. Mr. Tarun Das, the-then Secretary of AIEI, who later became Director General of CII and subsequently their Chief mentor, officiated as NACE’s Secretary. Ms. Tara Laroia of AIEI functioned as Assistant Secretary for NACE and maintained all its records, which were subsequently shifted to India Habitat Centre under the charge of Mr. R.K. Abrol.

While Mr. Umesh Shrivastava was the President of NACE, a dialogue emanated between FIEO, NACE and DSIR with the objective of forming another association to take care of overall development of all kinds of consulting activities including management consulting. Mr. Chandrakant from FIEO, Dr. Varadarajan, Dr. K.V. Swaminathan and Dr. S.P. Agarwal from DSIR together with NACE took a lot of interest in formation of Consultancy Development Centre (CDC).

In its keenness to explore overseas market with a view to project the image of Indian Engineering Consultancy and open the doors to earn valuable foreign exchange for the country, NACE joined hands with CII, FIEO and Exim Bank from time to time and mounted following consultancy missions:

S.No. CountryTeam Leader
1. Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria Dr. V.K. Raina : GILCON
2. IFC, World Bank, USA Umesh Shrivastava : HOLTEC
3. Asian Development BankManila, Philippines Umesh Shrivastava : HOLTEC

In 1995 a dialogue was initiated between NACE and ACEI to join hands to strengthen the consultancy movement in the country as a result of which
Consulting Engineers Association of India (CEAI) was born in 1996.



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