Bombay Development Department

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Bombay Development Department (BDD) was founded in 1920 by the Governor of Bombay Sir George Lloyd under a civil servant, Sir Lawless Hepper, to implement "a massively imperial scheme" which included middle-class housing in Salsette, the construction of 50,000 tenements for laborers, and expansion of the business sector into the reclaimed Back Bay. The Department was to be funded from the proceeds of a development loan that was mounted under the catchword of "by Bombay for Bombay" and from a one-rupee town duty levied on each bale of cotton which entered the city. When appointed as Governor in 1918, George Lloyd regarded the severity of the housing crisis and its perceived contribution to political unrest as his foremost problem. However, he trusted neither the Bombay Municipal Corporation the Bombay City Improvement Trust (BCIT) to undertake his scheme. He blamed the Corporation for terrible housing conditions and insanitation, and did not want to involve private contractors to implement schemes since the appointment of British Contractors would cause nationalist protest, and schemes implemented by Indian contractors would be "spoilt by corruption and maladministration." To ensure that the government itself could carry out his plans, the BDD was set up.


The Objectives of BDD were to (a) carry out the Back Bay Reclamation Scheme and any other reclamation schemes which may be found necessary in or near Bombay City; (b) undertake a housing scheme of 50,000 one-roomed tenements for the working classes in Bombay; (c) organise systematically the supply of building materials for its own work and "for the works with which it is connected" (d) take over all questions relating to the acquisition of land in Bombay City and all questions regarding the utilisation of Government land; (e) carry out large schemes for the systematic development of Salsette through town planning schemes to be carried out by local authorities; (f) secure an adequate water supply for the whole of Salsette when it is devloped as an urban area; (g) deal with the supply and distribution of electrical energy, both for domestic and industrial purposes in the area outside Bombay; (h) take up the question of the improvement of communications to link up Bombay City with the areas to be developed in Salsette and Trombay.


The Back Bay Reclamation Scheme

Working Class Housing Scheme: BDD Chawls

BDD in total constructed 207 Chawls which contained 16,200 tenements spread over 87 acres of land. A typical chawl contained a three storied building having tenements of 160 square feet with common bathroom and toilet facilities on each floor. These chawls were built at Worli(121), Sewri(12), Naigaon(42 Chawls with 20 flats on each floor) and Parel(32). The housing scheme was called "Industrial Housing Scheme" and in 1921 the Naigaum and DeLisle Road site was undertaken and by 1925-26 all the four sites were completed. The occupants of these chawls at that time ranged from mill workers, industrial workers and police constables. The rent of the rooms ranged from Rs 5 to Rs 10. A town duty was imposed on raw cotton as a cess that contributed towards the construction and maintenance of the Chawls. These chawl neighbourhoods have seen several socio-political movements ranging from the working class movements to the Dalit-Panther movement.

Middle Class Housing in Salsette

Criticism, Failures and Closure