I have been born in Mumbai, I have seen this city changing structure and also seen slums growing and getting reformed. We call those huge slums slumbai. Slumbai surrounds half of Mumbai. This city is divided into two parts with 65 Lakh slum dwellers in the economic capital. There are many movies and documentaries illustrating the truth of the city called Mumbai.
Slumdog Millionaire, movie gave new charm to the slums of Mumbai. Overnight foreign tourists started flooding the city to visit slums. Dharavi is a slum and administrative ward, over parts of Sion, Bandra, Kurla and Kalina suburbs of Mumbai, India. It is sandwiched between Mahim in the west and Sion in the east and spreads over an area of 175 hectares, or 0.67 square miles (1.7 km2).
In 1986, the population was estimated at 530,225 but modern Dharavi has a population of between 600,000 and over 1 million people. Dharavi is one of the largest slums in the world. It used to be the largest slum in Mumbai at one time, but as of 2011, there are four slums in Mumbai larger than Dharavi.
There have been many plans since 1997 to redevelop Dharavi like the former slums of Hong Kong such as Tai Hang. In 2004, the cost of redevelopment was estimated to be 5,000 crores. Companies from around the world have bid to redevelop Dharavi, including Lehman Brothers, Dubai’s Limitless and Singapore’s CapitaLand Ltd. In 2010, it is estimated to cost 15,000 crores to redevelop.
The latest urban redevelopment plan proposed for the Dharavi area, The plan involves the construction of 30,000,000 square feet (2,800,000 m2) of housing, schools, parks and roads to serve the 57,000 families residing in the area, along with 40,000,000 square feet (3,700,000 m2) of residential and commercial space for sale.
There has been significant local opposition to the plans, largely because existing residents are due to receive only 225 square feet (20.9 m2) of land each. Furthermore, only those families who lived in the area before 2000 are slated for resettlement. But this slum Dharavi has severe problems with public health, due to the scarcity of toilet facilities, due in turn to the fact that most housing and 90% of the commercial units in Dharavi are illegal.
As of November 2006, there was only one toilet per 1,440 residents in Dharavi. Mahim Creek, a local river, is widely used by local residents for urination and defecation, leading to the spread of contagious diseases. The area also suffers from problems with inadequate drinking water supply.
In most large cities, the floor space index (FSI) varies from 5 to 15 in the Central Business District (CBD) to about 0.5, or below, in the suburbs. In Mumbai the permitted FSI is uniform and in 1991 was fixed at 1.33. The regulations that restrict the FSI greatly reduce the floor space available for residences and businesses.
Inexpensive Mumbai, Dharavi provides a cheap alternative where rents were as low as US$4 per month in 2006.Dharavi exports goods around the world. The total turnover is estimated to be between US$500 million and over US$650 million per year. Dharavi is situated between Mumbai’s two main suburban railway lines, the Western and Central Railways. To its west are Mahim and Bandra, and to the north lies the Mithi River, which empties into the Arabian Sea through the Mahim Creek. To its south and east are Sion and Matunga. Both its location and poor drainage systems make Dharavi particularly vulnerable to floods during the wet season.
The failure of the system in providing due care is not surprising. Is not it the way our system functions? The upper authorities consume their share; the middlemen consume theirs and if the resource reaches the hands of the poor the bigger fishes there eat away the share of the smaller ones.
So first the authorities will have to acknowledge that slum dwellers are there and their population increases at a rate better than the common people population so swift action is required to solve their problems. They must return something to the city that makes them what they are today. The root causes of this issue are three-fold. First is the unmitigated flow of population to this premier city, second is the lack of affordable housing for the poor and the third and most important reason why the SRA could not succeed is that Maharashtra politics is dominated by builders’ lobby.
In all the major cities of Maharashtra, builders have become politicians and vice versa and this is true across all political parties. However, one may not misconstrue that all slum-dwellers are below-poverty line people. In fact, many of them are quite industrious and economically well off. It is just that land is simply not available in Mumbai and the politician-builder community has grabbed whatever was available. The SRA never was or is the solution. What is needed is the greater spread of the city with a faster and efficient transport system, so that the population can shift and commute faster.
Any suggestions, comments or disputes with regards to this article send us at [email protected]