The best idea to redevelop Dharavi slum? Scrap the plans and start again
By 8am, Dharavi is already noisy. Tea stalls already clinking, leather-making and embroidery and plastic-crushing machines already cranking through their long daily grind. Dharavi, the most well-known informal settlement in Mumbai, stands in a category of its own, and challenges the very notion of a slum. Its maze of matchbox buildings contains thousands of micro-industries, which collectively turn over $650m annually and provide affordable housing to the city’s working class. Over decades, Dharavi’s residents – its potters, garment-makers, welders and recyclers from all over India – have transformed what was a marshy outpost into a thriving entrepreneurial community. But Dharavi is no longer in the boondocks. Under the government-led Dharavi Redevelopment Project, developers will provide the people living there – who can prove residency since 2000 – a new, 300 sq ft house for free. Everyone agrees that Dharavi needs better working and living conditions.
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