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April 1, 2021
All Articles by: DEV KUMAR KOTHARI       View Profile
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                                                   CA Dev Kumar Kothari

Spacious homes and offices are required for good health:

Spacious homes and offices are requirement for good health of persons living and / or working therein. When there is need to work from home, the requirement has increased further.

For protection from viruses, bacteria, insects etc. also net and clean and spacious places are required.

Temporary arrangement for WFH:

We find that   most of people have somehow adjusted available place to work from home. In fact when work is to be done from home, more space is required for office work so that one can work with least of disturbance and more concentration. However this was not available to many including rich people, because homes were not designed to provide suitable work place at homes. Many had no place to work from home because they lived with thinking ‘don’t bring business or work at home or don’t mix-up personal and professional life’ etc.

Many staff and even senior people have compromised to adjust somehow to work from limited place at home. This was considered necessary to save jobs and earning and also with a view that it is a casual or temporary and short term requirement. However, now it appears that WFH has to be a good practice for people in employment, self-employed and professionals.

Additional requirement due to COVID and related aspects:

Additional space is required and will be required for the following reasons:

 Distancing to be followed, even after COVID 19 risk is over. This is because now people, have understood importance of spacious place to work and live. So preference will be to have good space for working and living.

Importance of minimum suitable requirement for good living and working. We can find that with increase in income and accumulation of capital generally people used to acquire better space for living and working. Now requirement is more priority for spacious place to live and work.

 Spread of viruses is more in congested area:

Any virus (recent being COVID19 and its variants) spreads more rapidly in thickly populated and congested area. To prevent or reduce spread of virus and dieses from them more open spaces and less congestion is important.

Covid19 has taught us a good lesson. We can consider examples of Mumbai and particularly some highly congested area in and around Mumbai, and many other places where spread of CoVID19 has been much rapider.

We can also consider cases of small cities, townships and villages, where larger space is available per head, there has been less spread of virus.

Small spaces are not good for health:

Small spaces are not good for health. In this regard better measurement is cubic feet per person and not only sq. feet. In some of new projects we find that ceiling height is very less,  and it is further reduced by putting false ceiling, whereas in old buildings ceilings are very high. In some cases distance between floor and ceiling is very high. Very short distance reduces cubic feet per square feet of floor area. Whereas in case of too high a ceiling effectiveness of area in terms of cubic feet is reduced.

Good space in terms of cubic measurement, per person  is necessary to provide for adequate air, oxygen,  lesser effect of pollutants etc.

Provision in Factories Act:

We find a provision in the Factories Act under the heading overcrowding vide section 16 which is reproduced below with highlights added:

16. Overcrowding.-

(1) No room in any factory shall be overcrowded to an extent injurious to the health of the workers employed therein.

(2) Without prejudice to the generality of sub-section (1) there shall be in every workroom of a factory in existence on the date of the commencement of this Act at least 9.9 cubic metres and of a factory built after the commencement of this Act at least 14.2 cubic metres of space for every worker employed therein, and for the purposes of this sub-section no account shall be taken of any space which is more than 4.2 metres above the level of the floor of the room.

(3) If the Chief Inspector by order in writing so requires, there shall be posted in each workroom of a factory a notice specifying the maximum number of workers who may, in compliance with the provisions of this section, be employed in the room.

(4) The Chief Inspector may by order in writing exempt, subject to such conditions, if any, as he may think fit to impose, any workroom from the provisions of this section, if he is satisfied that compliance therewith in respect of the room is unnecessary in the interest of the health of the workers employed therein.


From above provisions we can notice that in a factory built up after commencement of the Act in 1948   14.2 cubic meter  area is required for each workman. And for computing the cubic area, if ceiling is higher than 4.2 meter than only 4.2 meter height will be considered.

The difference between old factories and new factory is also significant in old factory building only 9.9 cubic meter  of area was required whereas in buildings constructed after commencement of the Factories Act, minimum requirement is 14.2 cubic feet.

In view of new requirements and new feelings it appears that it is time to revise upward standard per person in terms of cubic feet/ meter.

The difference between 14.2 and 9.9 is also more than 43 per cent. Therefore, it seems to be a subject for further study and to revise space requirement.

In the factories Act such requirement was basically with a view of ensuring safety at work place. Issue of virus , bacteria etc. was perhaps not considered important aspect. This aspect need to be considered.

If we consider present scenario where more distancing is required to protect against virus, the space requirement need to be revised and increased significantly.

Congested and overcrowded offices, tool room, workshops are not uncommon:

If we observe some of places, near us,  we will find that many of offices and work places, which are considered  good standard places   are also  over crowed. Even branches of banks can be found over crowded during initial business hours. We can see office space of about 700 sq. feet to provide seating arrangement for 10-20  people. The space requirement need to be increased.

Class rooms: Class rooms in many schools and colleges, particularly new ones in cities are overcrowded.                                                                                                                                                         

Government offices:

Even in government offices we find high disparity in size of chambers.. For example in case of some of Pr. CIT or CIT in Kolkata  we can find huge  chamber space of more than 1000 sq. feet whereas in case of office of ITO in some cases it is less than 150 sq. feet. If we consider staff rooms, at many places area per person is much less.

This is not good, particularly because cleanliness is also lacking in government offices.

Crowded living spaces:

In case of homes also majority of people are not having adequate space and considering size of space available and people living, these can be considered over crowded. Having one room per family member is still considered luxury because of lack of capital and affordability of larger place for requirement of maintenance, electrification etc.

In case of LIG and MIG flats we generally feel overcrowding.

Dormitories- at many places small rooms are used as dormitory these are generally over crowded.

Migrant workers, clerks, junior staff etc: we can observe that these people are living in over crowded condition.

The National Building Code (NBC):

In web search I found

In this there are several requirements and standards about buildings. However, how much space should be available per person could not be found.

The above write-up is a general and preliminary study, it require more in-depth study and research about law, trade practices possibilities and limitations for providing adequate space for living and working.

However, we can say for sure that we need large spaces for general public, and therefore, disparity in space available to people in different categories of social and economic strata need to be bring down. We also need to divert excess space available to many institutions which is in far  excess of their requirement whereas large population is living in miserably inadequate space for working and / or living.


By: DEV KUMAR KOTHARI - April 1, 2021


Discussions to this article


Dear Sir,

Nice article in the interest of all. Health is at the top. Thanks for throwing light on this issue.

Dated: 01/04/2021


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