Slums are commonplace in the financial capitals. Almost every financial capital in the developing world is pervaded with slums. Even in the developed world, for instance, in New York City there are semi slums that are not found anywhere else in United States. This is because of the influx of huge amount migrant workers that flocks to the financial capitals in search of jobs. For the similar reason, India’s financial capital, Mumbai is infested with slums as well. The most notable of them is Dharavi, which is considered as the largest slum in India, the second largest slum in Asia, and the third largest in the world. The two other slums in the world that are bigger than Dharavi are Orangi in Karachi, Pakistan and Neza-Chalco-Itza in Mexico City.
Dharavi, like most of the slums in Mumbai is cluster of huge numbers of cramped up one room apartments with little or no space between the houses. The population density of Dharavi is 600-2000 people per acre.
If people think that Dharavi is an outcome of urban disaster caused in the post independent unplanned growth of our cities, one is grossly mistaken! Dharavi was founded in 1882 and was the works of the British. During this time a deadly bubonic plague spread in the city that led to the shifting of the polluted industries to the present Dharavi area. The locality gradually spread in the form of a slum.
Still today, Dharavi is the home of around 5000 businesses and 15,000 single room factories. The total annual turnover of this locality is quite impressive at $650 million to $1 billion.
The households of Dharavi mostly belong to the unskilled and blue collared migrant labourers who come from various corners of the country in search of their livelihood. The sky rocketing price of Mumbai real estate forces them to dwell in these tiny hamlets of Dharavi. As far as the Maharashtra government is concerned, it is a helpless situation, which is difficult to break. Till Mumbai remains the commercial capital, the migrant workers will keep on pouring into the city. With supply of labor high, their wage cannot be high enough enabling them to find a place in a decent quarter. This lead to a situation that slums like Dharavi is essential for the city’s business to thrive. Thus, unfortunately no alternative can found to Dharavi in the foreseeable future. There is neither space, nor money to build so many quarters for the people of Dharavi to shift.