Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In concluding this chapter we desire to make some recommendations in respect of public works. If we had followed strictly the definition of an " industrial undertaking" adopted by the First International Labour Conference in the Hours of Work Convention, we would have been compelled to regard our terms of reference as covering all labour employed on construction, maintenance and repair work of all kinds, from village houses to the largest canals. Building work of various kinds is, for the most part, quite unorganised and is scattered all over India. We therefore found it necessary to limit severely our survey in this direction and confined our attention to public works. These include the great majority of the larger constructional enterprises in India and an immense number of smaller works of all kinds. Indeed, there is probably no country where Government takes so large a part in the construction and maintenance of canals, roads and buildings. Every province has its own Public Works Department, which is usually divided into two branches; namely, the Irrigation Branch and the Roads and Buildings Branch, each with its own staff. The great irrigation canals now irrigate about 27.5 million acres and are being steadily extended. At the present time there is in progress in Sind the Lloyd Barrage and Canals Scheme, which is perhaps the biggest work of its kind in the world. It was started in 1921 and is not expected to be completed until 1934. The labour employed is imported from many distant areas, such as Rajputana, the Punjab, the United Provinces, the Frontier areas and Afghanistan. The supply of labour has been increasing each year and so far has never been equal to the demand. It also shows considerable variations with the seasons.
In 1928-29 the number employed was about 45, 000, of whom not less than 2, 000 were skilled workers. On the Roads and Buildings side the Government is also a very large employer of labour. It is responsible for the maintenance of all trunk roads and a great number of official buildings of all sizes. The biggest task undertaken in this connection in recent years has been the creation of the new capital at Delhi, which began before the war and is now practically completed. The numbers employed here fluctuated from 4, 000 to over 20, 000, the greater part of the labour employed being from Rajputana, Central India and the Bombay Presidency. Here, as in other constructional works, a number of women were employed and child labour was not unknown.