Dharavi, infamous as one of the world's largest slums, is located in the heart of India's financial capital - Mumbai. A city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts. While the land (area of 535 acres) is owned by the government, the houses are maintained by individuals.
Why is Dharavi slum in the news
The coronavirus pandemic, which has wreaked havoc across mlore than 200 countries, including India, also affected the slum. Around 138 people tested positive for the virus by April 20, 2020, and 11 died.
An estimated 600,000 to 1 million people live crammed in Dharavi - a roughly five-square-kilometre maze of narrow lanes, ramshackle buildings, shanties and open sewers. Authorities in Mumbai are concerned over the possible spread of the new coronavirus in the densely populated slum of Dharavi.
How was Dharavi slum created?
The Dharavi slum came into being in 1884. It was originally inhibited by fisherfolk when the area was still creeks, swamps. It became attractive to migrant workers from South Mumbai and others when the swamp began to fill in due to natural and artificial causes. The area grew as poor rural Indians migrated to urban Mumbai.
Population of Dharavi
Dharavi is home to more than a million people. Many are second-generation residents, whose parents moved in years ago. According to Lonely Planet, 60 per cent of Mumbai's population lives in slums, and the largest slum in Dharavi.
Rental cost in Dharavi
In a city where house rents are among the highest in the world, Dharavi provides a cheap and affordable option to those who move to Mumbai to earn their living.
Rents here can be as low as Rs 185 per month, according to Lonely Planet.
Dharavi's socio-economic status
Dharavi is close to the Bandra Kurla Complex, which is one of the richest business hubs in Asia. Its proximity to Mumbai's two main suburban rail lines, makes it convenient for people to go to work. Dharavi has a large number of thriving small-scale industries that produce embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic. It is a highly multi-religious, multi-ethnic, and diverse settlement. Dharavi is said to be one the most literate slums in India with a literacy rate of 69%, according to Wikipedia.
Dharavi's development proposals
Starting 1950, proposals for Dharavi redevelopment plans have come out periodically. However, most of these plans failed because of a lack of financial banking and/or political support. The government proposed transforming the slum into a modern township, with proper housing and shopping complexes, hospitals and schools. It is estimated that the project will cost $2.1 billion.
Condition of people living in the slum
Dharavi has suffered from many epidemics and other disasters, including a widespread plague in 1896, which killed over half of the population of Mumbai. The slum, like many others, lacks provisions for sanitation, drains, safe drinking water, roads or other basic services.
Dharavi's rise to fame
The film industry has played a key role in bringing this slum to prominence. It was featured in films like the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire and the more recent Gully Boy.
Dharavi plays host to tourists who want a whiff of what life is like for slum-dwellers in India. Tourists are taken on tours through the narrow alleyways of the slum to showcase the hot business hub that it has become over the past few years. The sprawling Dharavi became the favourite tourist experience of 2019 in India and even beat the Taj Mahal, says travel site TripAdvisor’s Travellers’ Choice Awards.