Milestone-Proposal:The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation - 1897

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Docket #:2019-08

This Proposal has been approved, and is now a Milestone

To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation, 1899

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC) established the first commercial electric supply company in South Asia. CESC switched on the 1000 kW thermal power generation plant at Emambagh Lane, Prinsep Street in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on 17 April 1899. This delivered 450/225V DC power for street lighting, residential and office buildings, and the Calcutta Tramways. The event heralded the era of electricity in the Indian Subcontinent.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Kolkata Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE Kolkata Section
Senior Officer Name: Sushmita Mitra

Unit: IEEE Kolkata Section
Senior Officer Name: Snajay Kar Chowdhury

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE Kolkata Section
Senior Officer Name: Sushmita Mitra

Unit: IEEE Kolkata Section
Senior Officer Name: Snajay Kar Chowdhury

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Kolkata Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Sushmita Mitra

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Harish Mysore
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

CESC, Victoria House, Chowringhee Square , Kolkata 700 001, 22.561614749461267 88.36674148833798

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The location is the headquarters of The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation Limited from its inception. The company name was later changed to CESC Limited. Corporate Building and a Heritage Site

Are the original buildings extant?


Details of the plaque mounting:

The corporate building of CESC has a round tomb on the top with a small globe which remains illuminated at night.

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The building is well protected, plaque will be mounted in a secured place

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?

CESC Limited

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation Limited started distribution of electricity in the City of Calcutta from 1897 which was the British capital of India during that period. Advent of electricity in the city heralded rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in the city and adjacent area. The Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation Limited commissioned first Thermal Power Plant on 17th April, 1899 at Emambagh Lane near Prinsep Street in Calcutta. The initial capacity was 3 x 500 HP, Direct Current (DC) supplied to Consumers at 450 & 225 Volts. CESC established additional power stations subsequently at Alipore in March, 1902 of 750 kW capacity, Ultadanga in May, 1906 of 165 kW capacity and Howrah in September, 1906 of 1200 kW capacity. Cossipore generating station commissioned in 1912 with a capacity of 15 MW that replaced the earlier four generating stations. CESC switched over to alternating current (AC) in 1920. The initial usage of electricity was for Street lighting, High-end domestic load and for the electrification of the Calcutta Tram Ways.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

There were no regulations on electricity production and supply prior to this time; hence regulatory framework had to be developed to provide electric supply to consumers.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

CESC can proudly claim that it brought this wonder energy to Calcutta, a bare 10 years after it was first used to light up London – then the undisputed capital of the world. In those days there was neither gas lamp, nor electricity. Even the kerosene lamp, when it came dazzled us. The contrast can only be described by someone enjoying the wonders of electricity and looking back to those days of oil lamps.

Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.

Please refer to the document attached

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.

Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.