Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
In some of the large centres such as Bombay, Calcutta and Rangoon, Improvement and Development Trusts have done valuable work in opening up congested areas, in re-planning those under reconstruction and in preparing new areas for housing schemes. Such bodies are usually provided with full powers to acquire land for these purposes, but so far, except in Bombay, they have attempted little in the way of providing working class housing. Apparently, private individuals and local authorities were left to provide the houses after sites had been prepared. The re-planning and rebuilding of some of the smaller alums can be dealt with in this manner, but we consider it to be the duty of every Improvement Trust to provide housing for the working classes and recommend that this should be a statutory obligation. The Cawnpore Improvement Trust and the Rangoon Development Trust are two examples which may be quoted in support of this recommendation. In both these cities the Trusts have done admirable work in opening up and developing areas suitable for housing, but there is some reason to fear that one result of their activities has been to increase overcrowding, particularly in those areas where congestion was worst. Moreover, in certain cases, there seems to be lack of co-operation between Municipal Councils and Improvement Trusts. It should be possible for the latter to provide land, roads, sewers and sanitary conveniences for new areas where loans have been raised, but the cost of street lighting and water mains should be met by the Municipalities in the same manner as for other areas within municipal limits. So far as existing slums are concerned Municipal Councils need not acquire the land as they have the power to condemn houses unfit for human habitation. Improvement Trusts can acquire a whole area, develop it and lay it out. These different methods are applicable to different cases, but we believe that progress will other and with Government and employers, each bearing its own share of the burden. As regards the housing situation in Bombay, it is worth considering whether action should not be taken to condemn the old insanitary chawls in the mill areas in view of the fact that alternative accommodation has already been provided. This would receive additional justification if the improvements we have suggested in respect of the newer chawls were carried out before the demolition of the older ones; efforts might then be made to encourage particular communities to migrate. We have been informed that the question of establishing an Improvement Trust for Howrah, with similar functions to the Calcutta Improvement Trust, has recently been under consideration. The task of improving the housing and health conditions in this municipal area is so heavy that we have no hesitation in expressing the opinion that the establishment of such a body is a matter of urgent importance. The industrialisation of this town has developed to such an extent that there can be little doubt that the sale or lease of new sites on acquired land would bring in a considerable annual income, although here also assistance would have to be given by Government in the form of loans. No Improvement Trust can be expected to finance schemes of the magnitude of those required in towns like Howrah, Ahmedabad, Cawnpore and Rangoon without being possessed of an adequate annual income. If an Improvement Trust is properly organised, however, it should not be a losing proposition, although it naturally requires initial financial assistance in the form of loans. We were particularly struck with the position in Cawnpore. Here the Trust, although it could acquire land for improving roads and for driving through new roads, was apparently unable to acquire the adjoining land, the value of which was greatly enhanced by its efforts. The effect was to enrich the slum owner, who contributed nothing to the improvements, while the Trust was deprived of a valuable source of income. We recommend that in all cases Improvement Trusts and similar authorities should be placed in a position to recoup themselves from the enhancement of land values which results from their efforts.