Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Conditions in Madras, Madura, Coimbatore and other urban and industrial areas are equally unsatisfactory. In Madras City, 25, 000 one-roomed dwellings shelter 150, 000 persons or one-fourth of the population. The general shortage of houses is so acute that many hundreds of workers are entirely homeless and live on the streets or on the verandahs of go-downs in the vicinity of the harbour. In Madura, where a number of cotton mills are situated, conditions are specially bad. The Municipality has done nothing to relieve the problem, and none of the cotton mills has provided housing accommodation with the exception of the Madura Mills Company which has erected a settlement of 176 quarters.
In Coimbatore and Tuticorin no provision. of any kind has been made either by municipal councils or by employers. Many of the poorer classes, seeking in vain for accommodation, squat on private land and build flimsy shelters to serve as homes. When the landowners' demands for ground rent become excessive, these people move to other sites equally unsuitable and precarious. Eventually scattered cheries spring up where overcrowding and bad sanitation produce their usual deleterious effects. For the most part these colonies receive little attention from the authorites. More often than not the primary necessities of life are altogether inadequate. Even where piped water supplies are available, the nearest taps may be far distant, so that water is obtained from unprotected surface wells. The lack of roads gives municipal cleansing staffs an excuse for their neglect of conservancy. For want, of drainage and in the absence of latrines streams of sewage filter over the pathways. It is not surprising that epidemic disease frequently manifests itself in these plague-spots and that both the sickness and mortality rates of their inmates reach high levels.