Dharavi was the biggest slum in the world for a long time. It holds 600.000 up to 1 million people. This is an estimate ofcourse. There are so many houses and places where people live that they can not count exactly. When I visited Mumbai I had to visit this slum and see and experience it for myself!!
At a certain point the gouvernment wanted control back in the slum. They stated that everybody that had a house at that point got an adress. After that nobody could build a house for itself without persmission. You can imagine what happened, they build ofcourse…but they don’t get an adress on paper.. And officially they don’t have electricity and other facilities. They arrange everything for eachother so this doesn’t stop the growth of this slum.
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A Walk in the Biggest Slum of Asia: Dharavi
On an annual bases the slum makes around 665 milion dollar. This slum is an active and healthy one if you look at that number.. There is a lot of activity and there are thousands of small businesses in the small and narrow streets. But many of these businesses are illegal. The way they do their work is not of this time and age anymore. There are no rules it seems.. the biggest part of the work is done in a very unhealthy way. This is one of the reasons that they don’t want you to make any pictures during this walk. Reality Tours agreed to this with the locals and so they agree with the walk near and sometimes through their shops or factories. The factory owners are scared that the gouvernment sees what is going on at some places and will close it…or ask for taxes ..
Dharavi exports goods around the world
Even with an industry this big and that much money there is a lot of poverty in this slum. To give you an idea, there are only 700 toilets in the slum…and yes you are counting right….600.000 people are living there. It is unbelievable. The local gouvernment should clean this ofcourse but sometimes they won’t come and clean. The water is also a problem. They get an unlimited amount of water supply….twice a day. In the morning and in the evening they get fresh water, this rule is necessary because otherwise it will be a muddy mess in the slum. The watertap is community accesible and sometimes they won’t close the tap. To store water for the rest of the day they have tents. These are at the same area where the toilets are..
Dharavi has severe Public Health problems
I asked what happens if there is a fire.. Because I didn’t see any safety regulations what so ever. I got answered that they would stop that quickly because there is always someone in the area. It is busy and so there are no stories of big accidents. I can hardly believe that. Everybody knows that a fire can go really quick and especially when it gets hot…as it does in Mumbai.. But no, he was clear about it…there are no big accidents and things are put to an end quickly.. Search on the internet gives me other information unfortunately.
The area we were walking was a Muslim area of Dharavi and after we were going to the Hindu part of the slum. This part is so much cleaner and saver. They do have a private owned bathroom in their house and do have running water for private use. How is this possible? In these families the father and the mother are both working. What struck me most was that the females are working for the muslim factories but because they are female have to do the work at home. Even better probably, they can take care of children when they come home from school and work in between. The area was clean, nice coloured and looked really good!
Dharavi is working on a Good Future
Walking in the slum I felt safe. I had eye contact with a lot of Dharavi citizins and those were smiles and we were waving to eachother. A worker from a small clothing studio wanted to have his picture taken with me. Great!! We couldn’t make any pictures so I didn’t make one but I love to see those people somewhere on the internet 🙂 searching on #Dharavi #DharaviSlum on IG will show you all kinds of images!
After the tour we went to a school which they support with the money they earn with the Tours. They’ve got two schools, an adult one and a children school. Really good! They give interview lessons or computer lessons to adults. The skills adults need most to get a job outside the slum. Good to see such a progress!!
Information and Pictures
I really felt welcome in the slum. I can recommend taking this tour and especially with Reality Tours. I booked this online and got an answer within hours. Had the tour the day after!
The tour has rule that you can not make any pictures while you’re with them in the slum. But they do provide you some great pictures! Some of them were used in this blogpost.
Do you want to read more of my India adventures?
Donating to Schools in Khajuraho
Srinagar and the Gorgeous Dal Lake
Rituals, Roasted Rice and Holy Elephants