Monday, 9 April 2007
Dharavi-a place where hard working people live in lazy environment……
Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi, covering an area of 174 hectares of land and houses 6 lakh people, lies on prime property right in the middle of India's financial capital, Mumbai (Bombay).
Dharavi forces you to look at what is holding India back: the attitudes, the miseries that we ourselves tolerate but want to hide from visitors. But it is also in that sense that you understand, in Dharavi, what India could be. If you like, you can take that to mean the dirt and flies. But this is a place where every free square meter is an opportunity to start a business, where the children of destitute migrants from dusty Bihar backwaters study software.
Dharavi also has a large number of thriving small-scale industries that produce embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic.
Most of these products are made in tiny manufacturing units spread across the slum and are sold in domestic as well as international markets.
The annual turnover of business here is estimated to be more than $650m (£350m) a year.
Dharavi encapsulates much of what is wrong in India today. Open drains, piles of unclear garbage, filth and pitiful shacks are everywhere. Why do so many people have to live like this? That's partly answered by the housing crisis India's cities are buckling under. Foolish laws, misguided policies and venal leaders combine to produce an artificial, but severe, scarcity of land for affordable housing, forcing middle- and lower-class Indians into tiny tenements in impossibly crowded slums like Dharavi. If that's not hard enough, their lack of tenure over the land they live on keeps their lives in a sort of permanent insecurity. All over this country, slum-dwellers are frequent targets of municipal drives to "clear" them.
The state government has plans to redevelop Dharavi and transform it into a modern township, complete with proper housing and shopping complexes, hospitals and schools.
The Dharavi Redevelopment Project is experimenting with a new way of dealing with slums, where an entire slum is redeveloped as an independent self-sufficient `township.' Thus the five segments of the 535 acres of Dharavi will be developed so that each has housing, health care, civic amenities, and industries.
The developer will have to provide not just the buildings to resettle the slum dwellers living in the particular area but also all the infrastructure including roads, drainage, water supply, municipal office, hospital, school, industrial estate, open spaces for recreation, etc. In other words, the developer will be expected to deliver a complete `township' to the SRA.
More recently, under the SRA, 72 seven-storey buildings have either been constructed or are in the process of being built. They are scattered across the 535 acres. In addition, scores of new toilet blocks have been built as also other permanent structures. When officials were asked what happens to all these structures, the answers varied, indicating a level of confusion. If the developer wanted to pull down any of these structures, or modify them, he or she will have to negotiate with the people who have been resettled in the buildings.
The project has estimated that there are 4,500 `industries' — basically small to medium industrial units producing leather, readymade garments, jewellery, foodstuffs, soap, and pottery. Under the scheme, people with such enterprises are entitled to 225 sq ft free and can purchase additional space at market rates. Some of the bigger units would be able to afford this but thousands of smaller units that work out of lofts will be forced to shut shop. Also, all polluting industries like soap making or leather tanneries will have to close. Kumbharwada, the large potters' colony that is a landmark in Dharavi, is being treated as a special case.
At a cost of Rs.9,300 crore, the Government hopes this will be done by 2013
The name "Bombay" was derived from 'Bom Bahia' (The Good Bay),
.... a name given by Portuguese sailor Francis Almeida, in 1508 ....“Bounce back Mumbai” .....as it is called by the locals, it is a city that has been through a lot in the recent past – floods, bomb blasts, riots – and come out stronger each time.
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