When Sardar Patel appointed a Committee to review plague relief in Borsad (near Anand)

One is discovering so much. Following my piece on Bombay Plague in 1896, one is trying to find more evidence/cases of similar epidemics in other places.

I came across this superb report: Report of Borsad Plague Relief Inquiry Committee, 1935.

This Committee was established by Sh. Sardar Patel to review whether British authorities made any effort to relieve plague conditions in Borsad . a place 17 kms from Anand. The report says plague had spread and killed several people:

It appears that plague has become endemic in the Borsad Taluka since the year 1932, and the extent of its spread and· its virulence led public workers of Gujarat to direct. their attention to the organisation of measures for meeting it. The gravity of the situation can be gauged by an· examination of the growth of the disease as shown in the following table:

Year         No. of villages     No. of deaths affected from plague
1932                1                             58 (i)
1933              10                           150 {i)
1934              14                           129 (i)
1935              27                           949 (ii)

There was a tiff between British authorities and Sh. Sardar Patel:

Under the leadership of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Darbar Gopaldas Desai, non-official work for combating the epidemic was first taken
in hand in March 1935, and reports of the plague relief campaign carried on by these workers in Borsad were published in the press from time to
time. When public attention was thus drawn to the seriousness of the epidemic, the Government of Bombay issued on the 27th of April 1935 a
Press Communique on the subject. This occasioned a rejoinder from Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Darbar Gopaldas issued on the 10th of May in which
they made certain counter-allegations regarding the inaction of the various authorities responsible for safeguarding the health of the population, especially
during the year 1934-35.

Sardar Patel wanted an independent inquiry of experts on the matter. However, the Government did not agree to the request. This prompted him to set up his own Committee:

By his letter dated the 12th August 1935, Sardar Vallabhbhai intimated to Government that he proposed to invite a Committee of independent
persons to investigate the matter, and requested Government to authorise the Departments concerned to join in the investigation (vide Appendix V ).
As mentioned at the outset, on the 23rd of August he invited us to form ourselves into a Committee.

The Committee investigated allegations of Shri Patel and found them right:

From what we .have stated.so far as regards the charges and evidence thereon, the results appear to be that during the inter-epidemic periods
in the years 1932-33-34, the authorities concerned failed to adopt even the measures that the Government recommended in their communique dated the
27th May 1935. 

During the actual prevalence of plague, the only measures adopted were disinfection of houses to a limited extent and inoculation to a still more limited extent. We have no indication as ‘to the extent to which evacuation was carried out and there was just some pretence at rat destruction.

According to the reports of the Medical Officers, there was no clinical treatment whatsoever of any plague patients in any part of the Taluka during
the years 1933-34 and upto the middle of May 1935·

The authorities do not appear to have ever attempted or even thought of fighting plague by the adoption of measures-insufficient as they are suggested
by the Assistant Director of Public Health, in his Note of the 8th April 1935.


One Response to “When Sardar Patel appointed a Committee to review plague relief in Borsad (near Anand)”

  1. varun Says:

    very informative

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