Monday, September 3, 2012
Dharavi is a slum and administrative ward. It is sandwiched between Mahim and Sion, which are suburbs of Mumbai, India. By population, Dharavi is one of the largest shanty towns in Asia. A settlement named Orangi Town, which is located in the northwestern part of Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, is the largest official slum of Asia. However, Orangi Town is 57 km2 (22 sq mi), while Dharavi is only 175 hectares (0.67 square miles). The city of Mumbai can be expensive for local residents and Dharavi provides a cheap, but illegal alternative, where some rent is as low as 185 rupees (4 US dollars) per month. Dharavi is located next to the Mithi River, which empties into the Arabian Sea through the Mahim Creek. The area has a very poor drainage system, which often causes flooding.
The population of Dharavi is thought to exceed 1 million people. Dharavi is home to many traditional pottery and textile industries. The area also supports a large recycling company, processing recyclable waste from parts of Mumbai. However, wages are very low and living conditions are bad. Public health is horrible in the slum. Toilets are scarce and a 2006 study found that there was only one toilet per 1,440 Dharavi residents.
Mahim Creek is widely used by locals for urination and defecation, leading to the spread of many contagious diseases. The area also suffers from problems with inadequate water supply. The stench of Dharavi is horrible and many open sewers exist in the area. Dharavi was featured in the 2008 award winning film Slumdog Millionaire. The Indian government has released plans for a redevelopment project, which aims to transform the giant slum into a self-sustaining urban community.