Social StudiesWork,life and leisure-Bombay Housing And challenges ofEnvironmentBy Rithesh Darish-10-vThe Indian High School, Dubai
Expansion Of housing in Bombay in the19th Century• Bombay was a crowded city. While every Londoner in the 1840s enjoyed andaverage space of 155 sq. yards, Bombay had a mere 9.5 sq. yards . By 1872, whenLondon had an average of 8 persons per house, the density in Bombay was ahigh as 20.• The Bombay Fort area which formed the heart of the city in the early 1800s wasdivided between a ‘native’ town, where most of the Indians lived, and aEuropean or ‘white’ section.• With the rapid and unplanned expansion of the city, the crises of housing andwater supply became acute by the mid-1850s. The arrival of the textile mills onlyincreased the pressure on Bombay’s housing.• In contrast, more than 70 per cent of the working people lived in the thicklypopulated chawls of Bombay. Chawls were multi-storeyed structures which hadbeen built at from at least the 1860s in the ‘natives’ parts of the town. Like thetenements in London, these houses were largely, owned by private landlords, suchas merchants, bankers, and building contractors, looking for quick ways ofearning money from anxious migrants. Each chawl was divided into smaller one-room tenements which had no private toilets.
• People who belonged to the ‘depressed classes’ found it evenmore difficult to find housing. Lower castes were kept out ofmany chawls and often had to live in shelters made ofcorrugated sheets, leaves, or bamboo poles.• By 1918, Trust schemes (they focused on clearing poorerhomes out of the city center) had deprived 64,000 people oftheir homes, but only 14,000 were rehoused. In 1918, a RentAct was passed to keep rents reasonable, but it had theopposite effect of producing a severe housing crisis, sincelandlords withdrew houses from the market.• Expansion of the city has always posed a problem in Bombaybecause of a scarcity of land. One of the ways the city ofBombay has developed is through massive reclamationprojects.* reclamation – the reclaiming of marshy or submerged areas orother wasteland for settlements, cultivation or other use.
Land reclamation in Bombay• Reclamation often meant the leveling of the hills aroundBombay. By the 1870s, although most of the privatecompanies closed down due to the mounting costs, the cityhad expanded to about 22 sq.miles. As the populationcontinued to increase rapidly in the early 20th century, everybit of the available area was build over and new areas werereclaimed from the sea.• A successful reclamation project was undertaken by theBombay Port Trust, which built a dry dock between 1914 and1918 and used the excavated earth to create the 22 acreBallard estate. Subsequently, the famous marine drive ofBombay was developed.
Bombay as the City of Dreams:Theworld of Cinema and culture• By 1925, Bombay had become India’s filmcapital, producing films for a National audience.The amount of money invested in about 50Indian’s films in 1947 was Rupees 756 million. By1987, the film Industry employed 520,000people.• Bombay films have contributed in a big way toproduced and image of the city as the blend ofdream and reality, of slums and star bungalows.
Cities and the challenge of theenvironment• City development everywhere occurred at the expense of ecology andthe environment. Large quantities of refuse and waste productspolluted air and water, while excessive noise became a feature ofurban life.• The wide spread use of coal in homes and industries in 19th centuryEngland raised serious problems. In industrial cities such as Leeds,Bradford and Manchester, hundreds of factory chimneys spewedblack smoke into the sky. Shopkeepers, Home owners and otherscomplaint about the black fog that descended on their towns, causingbad tempers, smoke related illness, and dirty clothes.• People joined campaigns and their goal was to control the nuisancethrough legislation. This was not at all easy since factory owners andsteam engine owners did not want to spend on technologies thatwould improve their machines and owners got away with smalladjustments to their machinery that did nothing to stop the smoke.
• Calcutta to had long history of air pollution. Its inhabitanceinhaled grey smoke, particularly in the winter since the city wasbuilt on Marshy land, the resulting fog combined with smoke togenerate thick black smog.• High levels of pollution were a consequence of the hugepopulation that depended on dung and wood as fuel in their dailylife. But the main polluters were the industries and establishmentthat used steam engines run on coal.• The railway line introduced in 1885 brought a dangerous newpollutant into the picture-coal from Raniganj. The high content ofash in Indian coal was a problem. Many pleas were made tobanish the dirty mills from the city with no effect.• However, in 1863, Calcutta became first Indian city to get smokenuisance legislation.