Dharavi: Wikis


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Dharavi compared to other large slums in the world. Map according to Mike Davis.
Inside Dharavi
Dharavi children

Dharavi (Portuguese spelling Daravi[1] British Anglicised spelling Darravy, Dorrovy) 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,[2] and spread over an area of 175 hectares, or 0.67 square miles. In 1986, the population was estimated at 530,225,[3] but modern Dharavi has a population of between 600,000[4] and over 1 million people,[5][6] Dharavi is one of the largest slums in Asia,[7][8][4][9][10]

In expensive Mumbai, Dharavi provides a cheap, but illegal, alternative where rents were as low as 4 US dollars per month in 2006.[6] Dharavi exports goods around the world.[11] The total turnover is estimated to be between 500 million US dollars[3] and over 650 million US dollars per year.[6]



Dharavi is located 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.


One of the entrances to Dharavi
Pottery on sale in Dharavi

In the 18th century, Dharavi was an island.[12] In February 1739, Chimnaji Appa attacked Bassein. Before that, he took possession of Dharavi.

The area of present-day Dharavi was predominantly mangrove swamp prior to the late 19th century, inhabited by Koli fishermen.[13] However, the fishing industry disappeared when the swamp areas filled in. A dam at Sion, adjacent to Dharavi, hastened the process of joining separate islands into one long, tapered mass. Thus began the transformation of the island city of Bombay. In the process, the creek dried up, and Dharavi's fishing town was deprived of its traditional sustenance, but the newly drained marshes provided space for new communities to move in. Migrants from Gujarat established a potters' colony, and Maharashtrian tanners belonging to the Charmarkar caste migrated to Dharavi and set up the leather tanning industry. Other artisans, like the embroidery workers from Uttar Pradesh, started the ready-made garments trade.[13]

Bombay's first Tamil school and Dharavi's first school was constructed in 1924.[14]

Dharavi's Co-operative Housing Society was formed in 1960's to uplift the lives of thousands of Slum dwellers by the initiative of Shri.M.V.Duraiswamy,a well known social worker and congress leader of that region. The Dharavi co-operative housing society promoted 338 flats and 97 shops and was named "Dr.Baliga nagar".


Majority of the residets of dharavi belong to the dalit caste[15] but various other castes and tribes are also present. Minorities include christians, muslims and buddhists.


In addition to the traditional pottery and textile industries in Dharavi,[13] there is an increasingly large recycling industry, processing recyclable waste from other parts of Mumbai. Financial services is significant; the district has an estimated 15,000 single-room factories.[16]

An urban redevelopment plan is proposed for the Dharavi area, managed by American-trained architect Mukesh Mehta.[13] The plan [17] involves the construction of 30,000,000 square feet (2,800,000 m2) of housing, schools, parks and roads to serve the existing 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.[18] 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.[13][18] Furthermore, only those families who lived in the area before the year 2000 are slated for resettlement. Concerns have also been raised by residents who fear that some of their small businesses in the "informal" sector may not be relocated under the redevelopment plan.[19] The government has said that it will only legalize and relocate industries that are not "polluting."

Sanitation issues

Dharavi has severe problems with public health, due to the scarcity of toilet facilities, compounded by the flooding during the monsoon season. As of November 2006 there was only one toilet per 1,440 residents in Dharavi.[20] Mahim Creek, a local river, is widely used by local residents for urination and defecation, leading to the spread of contagious disease.[13] The area also suffers from problems with inadequate water supply.[21]

Media depiction

See also

Kamal Haasan in Dharavi, shooting for Mani Ratnam's Nayagan (1987).


  1. ^ D'Cunha, Jose Gerson (1900). "IV The Portuguese Period". The Origins of Bombay (3 ed.). Bombay: Asian Educational Services. pp. 265. ISBN 81-206-0815-1. http://books.google.co.in/books?id=miD5YO05jpUC&dq=the+origins+of+bombay. Retrieved 2009-01-04.  
  2. ^ National Geographic: Dharavi, Mumbai's Shadow City
  3. ^ a b http://www.dharavi.org/B._Introduction
  4. ^ a b http://www.time.com/time/asia/covers/501060619/slum.html
  5. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/world/06/dharavi_slum/html/dharavi_slum_intro.stm
  6. ^ a b c "Dharavi". BBC. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/spl/hi/world/06/dharavi_slum/html/dharavi_slum_intro.stm. Retrieved 2010-01-02.  
  7. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/world/06/dharavi_slum/html/dharavi_slum_intro.stm
  8. ^ http://www.economist.com/surveys/PrinterFriendly.cfm?story_id=9070714
  9. ^ Sharma, Kalpana; "Rediscovering Dharavi: Story From Asia's Largest Slum" (2000) —Penguin Books ISBN 0-14-100023-6
  10. ^ Dharavi not Asia's largest slum: UNDP report
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ "Gazetteers of the Bombay Presidency - Thane". Government of Maharashtra. http://www.maharashtra.gov.in/pdf/gazeetter_reprint/Thane-III/places_Bassein.html. Retrieved 2009-04-03.  
  13. ^ a b c d e f Mark Jacobson (May 2007 issue). "Dharavi Mumbai's Shadow City". National Geographic. http://www7.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0705/feature3/. Retrieved 2007-04-30.  
  14. ^ Clothey, Fred W.. Ritualizing on the boundaries. p. 91. http://books.google.com/books?id=uRxAOJWnyEwC&pg=PA91&sig=tjAC_4av4ZjAryzqRmjQXbX1O9A&dq=dharavi+. Retrieved 2009-05-18.  
  15. ^ http://www.urbantyphoon.com/dharavi.htm
  16. ^ Waste not, want not in the £700m slum, The Guardian, 4 March 2007
  17. ^ "Dharavi Redevelopment Project". Slum Rehabilitation Authority. http://www.sra.gov.in/htmlpages/Dharavi.htm. Retrieved 2009-03-02.  
  18. ^ a b Dharavi redevelopment plan is robbing us of space: residents, Wall Street Journal, 5 September 2007
  19. ^ "Mumbai slum dwellers fight development plan". BBC News. 2007-08-30. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6970800.stm. Retrieved 2009-03-02.  
  20. ^ Toilets Underused to Fight Disease, U.N. Study Finds, New York Times, 10 November 2006
  21. ^ In a city like Mumbai, Our Planet

Further reading

Coordinates: 19°02′38.4″N 72°51′23.0″E / 19.044°N 72.85639°E / 19.044; 72.85639



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