Andaman Public Works Department is the prime construction organization of the Andaman & Nicobar Administration. The department was set up in 1957 with a Single Division level establishment. Its first Principal Engineer was appointed in 1959. Since then the Department has brought sea changes in the construction activities in the Islands. The department has been mainly entrusted with the work of providing Infrastructural support for the people of the Islands, other departments functioning under the A & N Administration as well as the departments functioning under Ministries and autonomous bodies. The department serves the people of Andaman and Nicobar Islands by providing drinking water supply, roads and bridges, housing etc. The APWD undertakes the construction and maintenance of residential and office accommodation for various departments under Andaman and Nicobar Administration as well as the buildings for Hospitals, Health Centers, Schools, Colleges, Libraries & Stadiums etc.
In the past 47 years of its existence, the department through the sheer acumen of the Engineers, Architects & Town Planner has successfully completed a large number of construction projects surpassing difficulties encountered on account of scarcity of materials and man power by skillful management in execution of the works by implementing development schemes during the various Five Year Plans. During the passage of time, it has made strides in the technical, methodological and material use in construction activities. The works in initial stages were carried out primarily for the people in South Andaman & the Nicobar Islands. The South Andaman was basically inhabitated by the convicts of British Era, who were freedom fighters and forced to settle here.
Old buildings viz. Cellular jail, Raj Niwas, Commissioner’s Bunglow, few other Bunglows (presently residence of Chief Secretary, IGP, DIGP etc.) have been maintained by carrying out necessary repairs and renovations from time to time. Historical structures at Ross Island, the then Head Quarters of British Raj in the Island, got Practically destroyed during the earthquake of 1942 with a Magnitude of 8.2 on Richter scale and hence were abandoned. That year had seen the worst Earthquake recorded in the Islands so far. All the Brick structures except the Cellular Jail were severely or moderately damaged. Some of the damaged structures have been retrofitted and refurbished by APWD in order to maintain their original character
Andaman Public Works Departments expanded from one division which existed up to 1957 into a full fledge circle with four divisions. In order to deal with the increased volume of work in the third five year plan two more division namely North Andaman construction division and Marine works division were opened during the year 1961 which headquarters at Mayabunder and Car Nicobar respectively. In all the following six division were in promotion during the year under one principle.
- The maintenance division, Port Blair, the permanent division (now known as Port Blair south division,PBSD)
- Development division Port Blair (opened in 1957)
- Construction division no. I Rangat. M/Andaman opened in Sept. 1959.
- Construction division no. II Port Blair. (opened in May 1960)
- North Andaman construction (marine works) Mayabunder (opened in May 1961)
- Construction division (marine works ) Car Nicobar ( opened in May 1961)
The PWD activities in this territory were spread over many Islands and apart from man power were dependent on two essential factors namely transport and materials. The position of all three factors were always short of requirement at any point of time.
The Long monsoon in Andamans usually leave a short working season of 4 to 5 months in a year and is thus a great implement to construction works.
Later, some settlements were established in various Islands of Andaman & Nicobar by the Govt. of India for immigrants from the erstwhile East Pakistan in 1965 and from Bangladesh during 1972. Thereupon, A & N Administration furthered the activities of the department in Middle Andaman, North Andaman, Little Andaman and other smaller Islands to cater to the infrastructural needs of the settlements
Earlier almost all the construction of buildings and bridges were done using abundantly available local timber. Plain Cement Concrete was used only for building floors and other small purposes. This was primarily due to the difficulties faced in transportation of cement during those days.