Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Although we were repeatedly informed that the workers' houses in urban and industrial areas were no worse than those to be found in agricultural villages, we neither accept this as a statement of fact nor think it relevant as a standard of comparison. In the villages the houses may be dark and unventilated and their surroundings insanitary, but most of them have some sort of enclosure or courtyard which provides light, air and a certain degree of privacy. In the urban and industrial areas, on the other hand, cramped sites, the high value of land and the necessity for the worker to live in the vicinity of his work have all tended to intensify congestion and overcrowding. In the busiest centres the houses are built close together, eave touching eave, and frequently back to back in order to make use of all the available space. Indeed, space is so valuable that, in place of streets and roads, narrow winding lanes provide the only approach to the houses. Neglect of sanitation is often evidenced by heaps of rotting garbage and pools of sewage, whilst the absence of latrines enhances the general pollution of air and soil. Houses, many without plinths, windows and adequate ventilation, usually consist of a single small room, the only opening being a doorway often too low to enter without stooping In order to secure some privacy, old kerosene tins and gunny bags are used to form screens which further restrict the entrance of light and air. In dwellings such as these, human beings are born, sleep and eat, live and die.
The one bright feature in a number of centres is the effort made by the more advanced employers to provide housing. Employers' housing schemes vary greatly; some are admirable and others less so; but the worst is usually better than the best of the alternative accommodation open to the worker.
To these comments, which are applicable to the industrial areas generally, we would add observations on the more important areas individually.