The Trans-East District’s largest single project was a totally new army cantonment for an armored division of Pakistani soldiers. Work on the facility, to be built at Kharian in the Western Punjab region, began late in 1956 with construction of roads, railroad lines, fuel-storage tanks, a sewage system and treatment plant, and the initial complement of buildings to house the first five thousand troops.
Cantonments in Pakistan
By the end of 1957, the contractor had completed over three hundred fifty buildings and had work pending for another two fiscal years to complete the facilities. The most difficult problem at Kharian was finding an adequate supply of water.
At the Kharian cantonment, workers used donkeys to move sun-dried bricks.
The Suez Crisis of October–November 1956 closed the canal and lengthened the supply line for imported construction materials, slowing construction at Kharian. The Trans-East District also found itself competing for supplies with the Pakistani government, which had requisitioned 70 percent of the country’s cement production for its own use. This further delayed progress at both Sites.
The construction plan for the large army cantonment at Kharian called for a multiyear project to build facilities on a 4,000-acre tract to accommodate the fifteen thousand troops of a Pakistani armored division. At the outset of 1958, new facilities constructed by the Trans-East District provided space for five thousand troops. The work programmed for FY 1959 projected facilities for another five thousand soldiers.
Before construction could begin, the contractor had to build a two-mile railway spur to get equipment and materials to the job site. At the same time, much of the earth moved during the project was shoveled by hand into bags hanging over the backs of donkeys. Over a two-and-a-half month period, donkeys, carrying about two cubic feet of earth on each trip, moved thirty-five thousand cubic yards of dirt.That amounts to about one hundred fifty-seven thousand five hundred donkey trips in ten weeks or over two thousand five hundred trips a day during the standard six-day week.
As Clarke noted, Western Punjab, the region where the Kharian cantonment was located, had a long tradition of construction with bricks and manual labor. Laborers mixed mud and filled handmade molds. The bricks baked for six hours and then cooled for fifteen days. Whole families worked on the Kharian project and the average family group produced about one thousand to one thousand five hundred bricks a day. Brick makers received 5 rupees for one thousand bricks.
One worker carried twenty to twenty-four bricks at a time, a weight of 120–144 pounds, and earned 1.25 rupees per one thousand bricks delivered. Skilled bricklayers earned 5.5 to 6 rupees a day. A rupee was worth 21 cents, so an hour’s work in the United States at the minimum wage of $1.00 an hour earned about the same as a full day’s pay for Pakistani brick makers at the Kharian site.By April 1960, Pakistani Army units occupied the Kharian cantonment, 85 percent of them in permanent facilities and 15 percent bivouacked on site. A year later, the contractor completed all remaining facilities.In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section(1) and (2) of section 3 of the Cantonment Act ,1924 by the Central Government has declared Kharian (Military Camp Area) on 28-02-1959, Situated in the District of Gujrat.Kharian Cantonment is located on the GT Road (N-5) at a distance of 125 km from Capital city of Islamabad and 145 km from provincial capital Lahore. Prominent nearby cities and towns include Jhelum, Lalamusa, Gulyana, Dinga,Sarai Alamgir, and district city of Gujrat.The residential areas of the cantonment include the I.J. Colony, Defence Colony, Johar Colony, Ghazi Colony, Shami Colony, North Colony, M-Block, Afzaal Colony and Gammon Colony. In addition there are number of small camps and residential areas for the residence of troops.
⮚The Detailed History is Taken from the Book “Bricks, Sand, and Marble” by Robert P. Grathwol & Donita M. Moorhus, Centre of Military History and Corps of Engineers United States.