Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
Until there is available an adequate supply of suitable rooms let at rents within the means of the wage-earners, every effort to improve housing conditions must fail. It was to meet these requirements that, after the war, the Government of Bombay through its Development Department built 207 new concrete chawls containing over 16, 000 single-roomed tenements in four different centres, a majority of the mills being within a mile of one or other of the four. The large expenditure involved makes it necessary to accept these places as a more or less permanent feature of the housing of the Bombay industrial worker, although we hope that this plan will not be copied in any future housing schemes. In the new chawls the spacing out of the blocks provides reasonable air and light requirements, and the individual rooms give a sufficiency of space The flush-out latrines and the bathing places are such as can be fairly easily maintained in a sanitary condition, but their number is not always sufficient. All the chawls have been provided with roads, water, lighting and shops, whilst at Worli one whole floor has been converted into a market Schools and dispensaries have also been established in each of the four chawl areas and yet these new houses provide the only accommodation in Bombay which the workers have been reluctant to use. Never more than 50% of the 16, 524 rooms have been occupied since they were made available in March, 1929. This is partly due to disturbed industrial conditions, but we believe that other causes are also responsible. That the lack of lighting in the chawls themselves is one of these causes is evidenced by the fact that a number of blocks in which electric light was installed were immediately occupied, and we suggest that this improvement be introduced throughout. Additional objections, especially applicable to the Worli scheme, are the. lack of cheap transport to the mill areas, the inadequacy of markets; and shops, defective medical facilities and the lack of police protection. If further efforts were made to correct these deficiencies, there seems to us to be every hope that the mill worker would gradually see the advantages of residing in areas where condition? are so much superior to those in the old overcrowded slums.