Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum spread across 535 acres in the heart of Mumbai, is more than just an urban shanty town that is home to around 500,000 people in India’s commercial capital. People in the area say that Dharavi, with its thriving
leather, jewellery and pottery industries, is an industrial centre that generates business worth $1 billion a year.
Workers in a leather factory
That business is now under threat, as reported in a two-part series which appeared earlier this week in Mint. The Maharashtra government has embarked on a Rs9,260 crore plan to redevelop the slum. The 57,000 families living in the area are to be relocated to multi-storey buildings, where each will get 225sq. ft of space. The developers will provide 30 million sq. ft of space, including housing, schools, parks and roads for these families.
In return, they will get to build 40 million sq. ft of homes and offices for sale. The redevelopment project has attracted the interest of local and foreign companies, including Reliance Industries Ltd, Dubai’s Emaar Properties PJSC, DLF Ltd, Mahindra Gesco Developers and K Raheja Corp.
Residents are up in arms against what they see as a project on which they have
not been consulted. The state government has promised the residents that it will conduct a socio-economic survey of the area before embarking on the development.
A workman stitches a sack near tin cans waiting to be recycled
Most residents are opposed to the redevelopment because it does not appear to account for their businesses. And there is no clarity on whether they can continue to run their businesses in the new space that will be allocated to them.
“What happens to my factory under the Dharavi redevelopment plan? Will I get the same area my unit occupies?” asked Sanjay Khandare, a 30-year-old leather goods entrepreneur, as reported in an article that appeared earlier this week in Mint.
This photo feature tries to capture the essence of business in Dharavi—an essence that its residents are fighting to protect.