ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Dharavi: Makeover or Takeover?

Dharavi in Mumbai exemplifies what is most ugly and what is most inspiring about slum life in a city. How should it be redeveloped to remove the ugliness and yet retain its community spirit, enterprise, ambitions and hope? Current plans are focused on profit-making, by developers and government, with the welfare of the residents an incidental nuisance. This article examines the many attendant constraints in developing viable solutions. One is the promise of free pucca housing for slum-dwellers, which seems to have become a given for all slum redevelopment schemes in Mumbai. Another is the fact that Dharavi already has the highest living densities in the world, and redevelopment of the kind that is proposed will triple these densities, making living there unviable. The result could be that the present residents will sell out and flee, leaving Dharavi in the hands of high-income occupants living at more comfortable densities. An alternative would be to provide the essential infrastructure of water supply and sanitation, frame rules for redevelopment, and leave it to organisations of the residents themselves to take up reconstruction as and when they wish, in consonance with an overall plan.

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