Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
As regards the nature and extent of official supervision of the health and welfare of plantation labour, wide variations exist between the various provinces. In Assam the Director of Public Health has apparently little or no contact with the plantations, as he neither is an official inspector of factories, nor has the right to inspect plantations, although he informed us that he had paid a number of visits at the invitation of individual managers. This lack of co-operation and co-ordination between the Government and the medical organisations on the plantations may be due to the fact that, until recent years, no separate Public Health Department existed in Assam, official supervision of the health conditions of plantations being carried out by the Medical Department through the district Civil Surgeons. The latter are still official inspectors and all health statistical returns from plantations are sent through them to the Deputy Commissioner and eventually reach the Director of Public Health for inclusion in his annual reports. We recommend that the Director, his assistants and the district health officers should be ex-officio inspectors of plantations, with power of entry at all times and with the right to inspect health registers and to report and advise on all health questions.
In the Dooars the Director of Public Health of Bengal and his assistants have the right of inspection. Owing, however, to the incomplete organisation of the Public Health Department as regards district health officers, the Civil Surgeon of Jalpaiguri still remains the ex-officio inspector, although his multifarious duties at headquarters prevent him from making frequent visits to the plantations. The arrangement, as in Assam, is unsatisfactory.
In the Madras Presidency the Public Health Department is at a more advanced stage; the Director of Public Health and his assistants are ex-officio inspectors, and every district has its health officer empowered to inspect the plantations in his district. In addition a special officer, known as the Planters' Districts Health Officer, has been engaged during the past 4 years to advise on health work on plantations, as it was found that the regular officers' manifold duties precluded them from giving sufficient attention to the plantations. The salary and expenses of this health officer are borne by Government, but all expenditure incurred as a result of his recommendations is borne by the plantations. In Madras, also, the monthly health reports and statistical returns are sent to the district health officer, who is thus kept informed of the health conditions of his district. As soon as a complete health service comes into being in Assam and Bengal, a similar procedure should be adopted, and the inspecting powers of Civil Surgeons transferred to the officers of the Health Department. The Indian Tea Association representatives expressed themselves in favour of an extension to all plantations of the activities of the Government Public Health Department and of a closer relationship between that department and the plantations medical staffs.