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History of Lalbaug

Lalbaug Parel was one of the original seven islands that formed Mumbai. By the 1870s, several cotton mills had been established in the reclaimed lands in Parel (West). Gradually, with the industrialization, Parel became very polluted. It became an industrial area and in addition, residential space for mill workers. With the gradual decline of the mills in the late twentieth century, this very space is being recycled.

Both men and women worked in the mills. They would start working there at a young age (some as young as 16). 90% of the population who worked at the mills lived within a 15-minute walking distance of them. Most of the buildings were chawls in Parel were one room occupied six or more people. These chawls were built by both the government and the mill owners, but neither paid much attention to the quality of the housing. Chawls were representative of the lower-middle-income group in the city and the chawls had their own unique culture, a symbol of community living in those times.
When the Great Bombay Textile Strike was declared in 1982 by Datta Samant, there were an estimated 240,000 workers in Girangaon. Lalbag Parel was then called Girangaon, the village of Girnis (textile mills). However, the mills were permanently closed after the Great Bombay Textile Strike of 1982, which went on for 18 months at many mills and triggered the end of the struggling industry, with most of the mills being shut down after the strike. By 2007, only 25,000 people worked in the few remaining mills.

In Mumbai, the downfall of the mills inverted the city’s employment pattern. India has always had a large share of the so-called unorganized sector, but until the 1970s, Mumbai was different; in the city, the organized sector had always been the predominant employer. That changed as the textile industry withered, said the 2009 Mumbai Human Development Report published by the city’s municipal corporation.

These families had no alternative source of income. Few went back to their villages but most of them stayed back with a hope of realizing their rights. Unemployment led to increase in crime rates and the young ones helped in making ends meet.

Our students parents, are the children of these mill workers and suffered the brunt of the unfortunate developments. They are now casual and domestic workers due to the absence of any opportunity in their lives. In this backdrop, Educo initiated a school project to provide a successful and effective formula to educate economically disadvantaged children in Mumbai, and in particular the Lalbag area through the Saibaba Path Municipal School in the year 2008.

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