15 to 20 per cent. of the population usually present at the time of the Census;
and the influence of this migration upon the public health is very marked. But
the influx and subsequent exodus of people is not constant from year to year.
Scarcity in the Presidency or special demand and high rates for labour in the
City results in an abnormal swelling of the population; whereas prosperity in
the agricultural districts or lack of employment in the City reduces the periodi-
cal migration to a very marked degree; and the result is reflected in the total
mortality returns from year to year.
34. It is necessary to discuss the seasonal fluctuation of the population at
some length, as very little attention appears to have been paid to it in the past,
although it is a factor of enormous importance in relation to the public health
problems of the City. The influx of people commences after harvest in
November, and their numbers gradually increase throughout the succeeding
months until May and June when a sudden exodus occurs.
The Imperial Gazetteer of India speaks of-
"The almost limitless reserves of the Ght village whence cultivators
"proceed in large numbers to Bombay to work for a few months, and
"return with their savings to their villages, either at the Holi festival
"(March) or at the commencement of the south-west monsoon."
and states that-
"The mills in Bombay draw large numbers of labourers from the Kon-
"kan Districts of Kolba and Ratngiri and from Stra, Poona and Ahmed-
"nagar in the Deccan. These for the most part return to their homes
"at intervals for such agricultural operations as their continual con-
"nection with the land requires."
This movement of the population has continued for a number of years,
and some idea of its extent may be gauged by the statements published in the
Gazetteers for Ratngiri, Poona and Stra Districts, in 1880-1885. The
Ratngiri Gazetteer records under the heading "Movements of the population"
the following statement:-
"It is estimated that in addition to many thousands partly settled
"in Bombay over 100,000 workers pass every fair season from Ratngiri
"to Bombay, returning at the beginning of the rains to till their fields."
The Poona District Gazetteer also records that-
"During the eight months from October to June, especially during
"the latter portion of this period, a considerable proportion of the kunbi
"or cultivating classes go to Bombay, where they earn a living as palanquin
"bearers, carriers, grass-cutters and labourers. It is impossible to make
"an accurate estimate of the proportion of the population who yearly
"move to Bombay in search of work. It is probably not less than
"5 per cent."
The population of Poona District at the period when this Gazetteer was
published numbered 900,621.
The Stra District Gazetteer published about the same time makes a very
similar statement regarding the temporary movement of people from that
district to Bombay, but gives no estimate of the probable number concerned.
The new Imperial Gazetteer of India published in 1906 states:-
"The proportion of widowed females to 1,000 widowed males is very
"high in Ratngiri (5,862), Stra (4,005), Knara (3,924) and Konkan
"(3,794). The plague epidemic in Bombay City to which the male
"population of these districts emigrates annually seems to have caused
"the death of the husbands."
It would appear from these statements that the City of Bombay nearly
30 years ago was subject to an annually recurring influx of at least 150,000
persons; and there are reasons for believing that the movement has undergone
a steady increase during the last fifteen years, owing partly to improved com-
munications, and partly to increased economic pressure in the rural districts.
B 136-4