ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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City Lives Workers Housing and Rent in Bombay, 1911-47

in Bombay, 1911-47 Radha Kumar By the first decade of this century Bombay's working class population was already living in overcrowded ill- ventilated chawls with poor sanitation and water supply. In the following three decades, the situation worsened. Between 1921 and 1931 working class housing increased by less than five per cent aggravating the situation. The chawls, some owned by the government, others by the mills and nearly half of them belonging to private landlords, were mostly rickety structures which often collapsed, injuring and killing the residents. Quarrels at the water tap leading to violence and murders was a feature of urban working class lives, as were such practices of landlords as rack renting, pagdi, the use of musclemen, etc. In 1935 the Congress Socialist Party helped to form the first working class tenants' union which took up various issues such as rent assessment standards, rent waivers during periods of high unemployment and even demanded free housing for the working class. Though the union functioned until 1945, it was not successful in mobilising large numbers.

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