Dharavi is an informal settlement in the bustling Mumbai. It covers about 2.2 square kilometers but is home to between 700,000 to 1 million city dwellers.
Location and composition.
Nestled between the affluent districts of Bandra, Matunga, Mahim, and Antop Hills, this unplanned settlement is home to world-class industrial units. Many of these are one roomed production units and small retail outfits.
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The attraction to this area is partly due to cheap rentals as well as the availability of highly skilled but cheap labor. The slum pride itself as one of the most literate settlements in Asia. The literacy level is about 70%.
The Dharavi settlement began during the British colonial era but has grown as more people migrate from rural surroundings to the city in search of better life. The Mumbai slum tour of the area gives an in-depth insight into how dense and chaotic the slum is. Further, the visits also indicate the extent to which Dhavari has grown into one of the most cosmopolitan areas in term of religious and cultural diversity.
Even though Dharavi is densely populated, it still holds some of the critical industries. Unfortunately, also, these industries are the most polluting to the environment. One such production sector is the tannery.
Hide processing started centuries ago here and has become high-tech with quality leather products. Another important industry is the pottery. Equally polluting to the environment, the value and quality of the porcelain produced here are high-end.
Another vital industry found within this low-income district is recycling. The affluent and vibrant Mumbai city provides this region with all waste products. All the city’s wastes are collected and dumped in the open field nearby – used as the refuse collection yard.
Invariably, recycling of the waste material is a significant income earner for the unemployed youth. These innovative workers and entrepreneurs turn all the waste into wealth, improving their livelihood and contributing to the vital economy.
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Taking Dhavari slum tour Mumbai expose the density and diversity of the local industries. Other factories, apart from the environmental polluting one, also thrive here. Numerous specialized factories – with jewelry, textile and packaging industries are fully developed here.
Infrastructure and modernization
Understanding the importance of this locality to the city economy, many city planners – local and international have submitted design proposals to remodel the slum. The local Government has sought funding for the same but little progress has been made to modernize the informal colony. Political and residents resistance are the main reasons for the failed attempts.
The railway system is a major transport infrastructure here. With the narrow road and clogged traffic, perhaps trains are the best mode of transporting both people and goods to and fro the locality.
The area also enjoys all the amenities of the city. Unfortunately, due to high population, these facilities are often in short supply. Water supplied to the area mostly ends up getting illegally tapped, blocked/diverted or wasted. Electricity supply and gas supply also suffer the same fate.
Economy and exports
Generally, these factories make Dharavi an economic and financial powerhouse. Its total economy is estimated to exceed over 1 billion USD. Since a significant portion of this GDP is informal, it’s estimated that these figures could even be higher.
Dharavi slum tour Mumbai India reveals that this small and busy informal settlement exports its world-class products to far and developed regions such as the Middle East countries, Europe as well as the United States.
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