Dharavi Redevelopment Project

Dharavi has an unplanned economic growth. According to some, change is inevitable. One of the many that are of this opinion is Mr. Mehta...
The $1.2 billion plan was set up by
Mukesh Mehta, the architect of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project. The project includes a complete reconstruction of all the shacks, informal businesses and other structures. A completely new city made up of 2,787,000 meters squared of housing, schools, parks and roads for 57,000 families and 3,716,000 metres squared of residential and commercial space for sale (http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/05/dharavi-mumbai-slum/jacobson-text).

The others that certainly go against this "great idea" as some see it, are non other than Dharavi's current citizens. No wonder that they are upset and aggravated by the Dharavi Reconstruction Plan; the government want's to take away their home, shelter; simply every form of life they had and were used to will be replaced by 20.9 squared meters of land for each person according to Wall Street Journal. Another significant issue that applies for the Dharavi citizens is that only people that have been living in Dharavi before 1999 are going to get resettled. What will happen to all the people that settled in Dharavi after year 1999? Where will
they be relocated to? Residents are upset for many reasons about the governments decision, one of the most obvious reasons is that the government did not consult the Dharavi people in anyway to at least inform the people about what is going to happen to their lives and businesses. People of Dharavi with all different religions have come to fight together for something that they all have in common: the right to keep their home that they themselves have built and occupied for generations. Raju Khode, their leader is certainly not against the reconstruction project, but what aggravates him the most is that: "
The government hasn't even approached us," he says. "We won't let them come here and raze our homes to the ground without our permission." (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/6970800.stm)
The government knows almost nothing about what goes inside Dharavi. They have no information about all the business that takes place within Dharavi that is essential for the entire nation such as recycling of used material. The governments review about what will happen to the informal businesses are that only the businesses that do not "pollute" will be relocated. This would mean that many of the informal businesses will be lost due to the "polluting" issue (such as the recycling businesses). What the government does not realize is that with giving the inhabitants of Dharavi one room, of 20.9 squared meters, they are unable to survive. After watching one of the documentaries about the unhappiness of the people due to the redevelopment project, I have realized that it will not work to provide them with only one room: "If a man works in a room below and lives upstairs and is given one room what will he do?" (Documentary: "A walk through Dharavi - Mumbai").This makes it a compromise between living in that one room or working there...

FEB. 12, 2009
The global credit crisis has created sever obstacles not only for Mukesh Mehta but the whole Redevelopment Project. Since the project was established it was put at bid for sale: "The economic slowdown and liquidity crunch has resulted in a significant change in the contours of some consortia bidding for the Rs15,000 core redevelopment project of Dharavi, Mumbai" as the Wall Street Journal claims. (http://www.livemint.com/2009/02/11224615/Economic-slump-hits-Rs15000-c.html). Some of the stakeholder associations have reconsidered their involvement in the project and some have withdrawn altogether. “The time is not conducive for a huge project such as Dharavi. Most developers have cash problems and Dharavi is an expensive project and it is difficult for even bigger players to make such commitments now,” said a Mumbai-based developer". (http://www.livemint.com/2009/02/11224615/Economic-slump-hits-Rs15000-c.html). In conclusion, the future of the Dharavi Redevelopment Project is uncertain. Until issues about the partnerships involved in the project  (and willing to invest into it) are uncertain, Dharavi citizens can relax.


The Dharavi people are only left with two options: fight back just like they have been doing up to now, or give in and accept that their homes will be ruined. The biggest mistake that the government and Mukesh Mehta have done is that they have not consulted the actual citizens about what will be happening. This gave them no choice to agree or disagree. Obviously, if they have no information about what is going to happen with their homes and jobs, they will naturally disagree to anything that might threaten this one and only thing that they have. They have absolute right to disagree. After all, it is their lives and routines that some one is trying to manage and change. In my opinion, the government should have spent money on going around Dharavi, and getting together some meetings with the Dharavi people to thoroughly explain the situation to them. Without this, they should have not made any further proceedings. Right now it is too late since the Project is finding investors and putting bits and pieces together in order to start coming to life; but certainly not for the people of the slum.
I personally do not think that the Project should happen. Not now with the global credit crisis, since if there might not be enough money once the Project has started to get built, it will just procrastinate the process. This could be by 1, 2 or even 5 years. During this time where will the Dharavi people stay? How will they be making money for living? Only if the citizens were informed at the beginning about the Project and the majority would agree with the terms and conditions, then I would agree with building this new city because I would be sure that the people know what is going to happen in detail.
It will also not work by giving them one room to work and live in. In the slums they are all grouped together, everything you need to survive is within the reach of a hand. Once they are relocated into high-rise apartments, this will be simply impossible. It will be a very frustrating process for them since they are not used to living in such luxury and hygiene conditions. The people might suffer a great deal when adapting to this new situation.
However, I am fully aware of the governments point of view that the center of business is around Dharavi, and that there is need for new apartments and places for living because the city is developing amazingly fast making the cost of one apartment equal to one in Manhatten, and then there is Dharavi sandwiched between all this urban development.  No wonder they need to build the new city, but they simply cannot move people out from what they were used to during their everyday life.
Other people will find new opportunities within the newly rebuilt city. The people of Dharavi that I'm talking about are educated people that were forced to migrate to Mumbai, Dharavi due to the lack of job opportunities within their village. Dharavi is a cheap choice to find a house for a very low price and to earn some money. These people might not have so many problems.
What I think will be problematic is the layout of the redeveloped city. The Dharavi slum was characteristic for low-rise housing and everything clumped together in one place. The project consists of mainly high-rise building, so as I have mentioned earlier the people might find it hard to adapt to the new environment.
The newly built city will provide a much better quality of life for the ones that can afford it and can adapt to it because they have received education in the past but they were simply unable to find a job in their village before and that's how they found themselves in Dharavi where everything was very
 cheap. These people will probably not have such problems finding a job because many new opportunities will open up. To others it might be a big obstacle that they will face and have to accept.
There are two unanswerable questions so far; where will the people of Dharavi that have migrated in after 1999 go? And: will the renters of the apartments make the slum residents pay high rents that they will not be able to afford? If they do, then it will be impossible for them to pay it since they might even lose their jobs due to the lack of space that they are provided. Because of this financial factor they will probably move out either creating another slum somewhere in the neighborhood or by moving to the closest and cheapest rent that they can find, probably finding themselves once again on the streets of Mumbai.