Royal Commission on Labour in India: Report(1929)||
The Rangoon Development Trust, which has been in existence for ten years, has done valuable work in constructing roads, in providing drainage and in opening up new areas for development, although its activities outside the areas supplied with water have been greatly restricted because of the Corporation's inability to extend the supply. But although sections of the existing Act contain provisions for the working out of town-planning schemes, it has not been found possible to put these into operation. As regards the housing problem, the Trust has so far done nothing directly, and it has given no facilities for the acquisition of land for workers' houses. Within recent months a draft bill entitled the Rangoon Immigrant Labour Housing Bill has been prepared for the provision of housing accommodation. Under this bill, the Development Trust is authorised to maintain and administer a fund for these purposes. The main source of income would be derived from .a tax to be levied on every male passenger leaving Rangoon by seagoing vessels for a destination outside Burma. Such a tax, which would he additional to the Rs. 2 tax already in existence, is estimated to produce Rs. 4 lakhs per annum. The objects on which this fund is to be expended include repayment of loans, the purchase and preparation of sites, the construction and maintenance of rest-houses, barracks and other forms of accommodation suitable for housing labourers and the payment of subsidies to private persons for the construction of such buildings. It is proposed that the Trust should build workmen's dwellings and then sell them to private owners at the market price. The proceeds of the tax would cover the loss incurred by the Trust. The proposals embodied in the bill met with some criticism on the ground that the whole burden of providing the necessary taxation was to be placed on persons leaving Burma. We deal later with the question of responsibility for housing, but we would observe here that various interests are responsible for, and stand to gain from, the provision of satisfactory housing for immigrant labour. The Chairman of the Trust stated that they hoped to build sufficient accommodation under this arrangement to house 33, 000 persons in the next ten years and, by that time. to enable the municipal public health authorities to use their powers in dealing with overcrowding without producing cases of unquestioned hardship. To begin with, at least, the Trust's activities are to be confined to the sewered area of the city where the labourers are now living. One of the first steps to be taken should be the provision of rest-house accommodation, and we would emphasise the need for urgent action in this connection. The Protector of Immigrants might with advantage be given some responsibility for its supervision. We also consider that the desirability of providing married quarters should not be overlooked.