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LEARNING

FROM
DHARAVI
ELIAS ISAACSON
SPRING 2010
Slum: heavily populated urban
area characterized by substandard
housing and squalor.

A slum combines to various extents the fol-


lowing characteristics:
• inadequate access to safe water
• inadequate access to sanitation and
other infrastructure
• poor (structural) housing quality
• overcrowding
• insecure residential status

(UN-HABITAT Challenge of the Slums, 2003)


The term has also come to include the vast informal settlements that are fast becoming the most visible
expression of of urban settlement in developing world cities. The majority of dwellings in the developing
world’s cities are in slums. Dwellings range from simple shacks to permanent structures, and access to basic
services including electricity, water, and sanitation is severely limited. There are likely more than 200,000
slum communities in the world. The South Asian cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Dhaka, and Karachi contain
more than 15,000 slum communities with a population of more than 20 million. The emergence of the “megaslum”
is largely a late 20th century phenomena. Slums are a tend to either be a product of deterioration or are built
as slums from day one (state or employer built low income housing).
Slum Typology :

A: Metro Core

1.Formal
a. tenements
b. public housing
c. flophouses

2. Informal
a.squatters
b. pavement dwellers

B: Periphery

1.Formal
a. private rental
b. public housing

2. Informal
a.pirate subdivisions (owned/rented)
b. squatters (authorized/unauthorized)

3. Refugee Camps

-Planet of Slums, Mike Davis


Majority of world’s poor no longer live in inner-cities, the majority of recent growth occurs along edge of
third world cities. This “horizontalization” of world cities is causing us to rethink the notion of periphery.
The ever increasing number of people living in outer slums has redefined the relationship of inner to outer.
Edge development takes two major forms:
squatter settlements and pirate subdivisions

SQUATTING: possesion of land without sale or title

PIRATE URBANIZATION: informal real estate market


created by illegal subdivison
Squatting can be
described as a “quiet
encroachment of the
ordinary”: small-scale
non-confrontational
encroachment of edge
and interstitial
sites. Squatters have
no legal right to
land which presents a
disincentive to build
sturdy,permanent
structures and
settlements. The
emergence of squatter
settlements often
occurs during
periods of political
uncertainty or after
natural disasters.
Large settlement
squatting in the
developing world
reached its peak in
the 70s, squatting
is now limited to
hazardous/marginalized
lands within urbanized
areas, land with so
little worth that
no one bothers to
enforce formal laws
of tenure.
This process of
land development is
better described as
extralegal rather than
illegal. People shut
out of formal housing
markets buy quasi-
legally subdivided
parcel with bare min.
of services from land
developer. This system
can be thought of as
a privatization of
squatting and became
the norm of low-
income housing around
world in the 1990s.
When it is legal, the
land is developed by
a speculator, when
illegal, the developer
is often a corrupt pol,
or local crime faction.
In this settlement
type, some formal
planning takes place
(street grids/uniform
lots), but there is
limited availability of
basic services (if any
at all), and usually
consist of “bootleg”
utility hookups.
LOCATION AND GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:

Central:
Central city slums tend to generate from classic urban growth processes; a rotting core and outer-ring growth.
These slums tend to be better off in terms of transportation and infrastructure, as they are often closer
to labor markets and employment opportunities. However, these settlements are the most prone to control by
informal organizations and racketeering

scattered Island:
These settlements are characterized by islands of slum settlements in pockets surrounded by formal housing and
official land uses. They tend to develop in designated open spaces or on environmentally unfit/unsound/unsafe
locations physically isolated from formal areas of city. These settlements tend to be small, with clandestine
service connections and “informal” waste disposal. Residents may use neighborhood social infrastructure such
as schools, but are often times discriminated against.
Peripheral:
The periphery of urbanized areas can be thought of as the “societal impact zone where forces of the city
collide with the implosion of the countryside”, the loci of the convergence of the outmigration of displaced
poor from city center and the in-migration of those leaving rural areas. Tenure in these settlements is
usually characterized by squatting or quasi-legal subdivison in areas of where there is less competition for
use and control of land. Edge settlements can be very large. In situations where residents possess title to
their parcel housing quality is relatively good, but severely limited service levels become a problem as
settlement grows and densifies. Land security comes at a cost; residents face high cost of transportation to
jobs/schools/markets as the availability of public transportation is limited. The scarcity of accessible
employment can lead to the exploitation of workers as “middlemen” look for inexpensive, unskilled labor to
process raw (and often times hazardous) materials in the slums.

The size and scale of these settlements range from 100,000s of households to small slums of clustered
dwellings scattered around interstitial sites throughout the city.

Large slum settlements, such as Ashaiman in Tema, Ghana can be larger than the city that supports it. Large
populations present economies of scale, making it possible for a large percentage of residents to earn a
living serving the needs of neighbors, as well as customers from the surrounding city. The availability of
inexpensive labor allows for the production of cheaper goods.

Medium sized slums are the most common, consisting of neighborhood sized settlements located in and around an
urbanized area. These settlements are often sited on marginalized lands (swamps, marshes, steep slopes)
where development pressure is the lowest.
Medium side slums are effective at resisting state demolition and relocation efforts because they tend to be
cohesive communities and contain enough residents to hold political sway.

Small slums can consist of as few as 8-10 dwellings. These settlements are often surrounded by formal housing
and other officially sanctioned land uses, or located on open spaces, communal lands, or interstitial
spaces near physical infrastructure (rail, major roads, easements). Residents of small slums are vulnerable
to exploitation, eviction, and relocation.

Pavement dwellers (as many as 20,000 in Mumbai) occupy pedestrian spaces in the city center. These sites are
advantageous because they are close to employment opportunities and have available access to services.
INDIA
India holds a profound interest in maintaining
its rural hinterland, and the Gandhian ideology
on which Indian independence was founded
displayed a profound antipathy towards the
idea of the city. India was to be rooted
instead in the self-sufficiency of village
life. However, the India of today now has
a hierarchy of cities spread across the
country, with Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore
the most dynamic, and experiencing the most
rapid growth.
Since the mid-1980s there has been a discernible shift in urban development in India and other developing countries
towards a more liberal system of governance. This shift has come at a time when most of the cities in these
countries were reportedly experiencing a ‘phenomenal demographic growth’ and consequent crisis in the provision
of adequate urban infrastructure. The incapacity of the state and local governments to make adequate investments
to alleviate this crisis has led to a process of government restructuring and reduction of public expenditure in
many Indian cities.
INDIA
The analysis of current development
dynamics and their impacts on urban
systems suggest that the process of
urbanization is unlikely to change over
the next few decades. The decline in
demographic growth in small and medium
towns is by growth in larger cities
like Delhi, Mumbai, Chenai, Kolkata
and Bangalore. In Mumbai, a city in
which water and power are erratic, in
which the suburban railway network is
so overcrowded that commuters who fall
off the trains are killed every day,
the private sector has been asked to
create alternative forms of settlements
that can provide solutions. All this
is occurring in a highly centralized
political context where, even though
the councillors of Mumbai’s Municipal
Corporation are locally elected, the
state still holds ultimate control. Other
liberal attempts to deal with Mumbai’s
chronic overcrowding, its constrained
site and continuing attraction to rural
migrants have also been questioned,
including the issue of the city’s
300,000 street vendors, of whom just a
few thousand are licensed.
MUMBAI
Of the 12 million residents of Greater
Mumbai, almost 6.5 million live in
slums. Mumbai’s slums are of two kinds:
the authorised, for which the municipal
authority has a responsibility to provide
basic services, and the unauthorised, which
are subject to demolition, and for which
there is no duty for the city to provide
power or water. There are impossible
densities, 80,000 people per km in Dharavi,
the largest of the slums. Authorised slums
are outnumbered by the 60 per cent that
are illegal. Some of the illegals rely
on unauthorised standpipes, and a few
have no water at all. Many of the rural
migrants, lack basic levels of literacy,
communication skills or market awareness.
Consequently, urban India faces a paradox.
Despite unprecedented growth in employment,
it will continue to experience high levels
of unemployment in the future, especially
at the heart of its cities. The decline in
real wages of casual urban workers in the
five-year period 1999–2004, among both men
and women, further questions the benefits of
this growth on the informal workforce.
0-20%
20-40%
40-60%
60-80%
80+%
no data

Chatrapathi Shivaji
Chatrapathi Shivaji
Railway Terminus
Railway Terminus

Mumbai Railways Network % of Pop. Living in Slums Population Densities


DHARAVI
Dharavi is Mumbai’s largest squatter
community. It has a population
ranging from 500,000 to 1 million
people, depending who is doing
the counting. Dharavi is massive
and densely developed, consisting
of self-built homes hanging over
narrow a spaghetti network of
narrow dimly lit alleys. Dharavi
is an intimidating, sprawling
development, and is feared by many
from the city’s other squatter
communities. Some parts of
Dharavi are extremely primitive
and possess few services or access
to sanitation. The lack of sewers
and utilities combined with the
intense density make the community
a breeding ground for disease.
Dharavi wasn’t always an illegal colony. Prior to the arrival of the British in Bombay (now Mumbai),
Dharavi was one of six koliwadas, or fishing villages situated on on series of islands jutting out into
the Arabian Sea. At the time, the islands were the city’s real attraction as the sheltered currents made
it an ideal location for fishing and shipping. The gaps between the isalnds began to disappear as the
contractors building the city’s seaside neighborhoods dumped debris into the harbors. It was cheaper
and easier to dump waste in Dharavi than the city’s sanctioned dumpsite which was father out of town.
DHARAVI
Dharavi was unique
in that it fronted on
Mahim Creek rather than
the sea, and it was the
only maritime community
where one could fish
commercially without a
boat. Fishermen could
net and spear fish by
simply wading out into
the creek’s shallow
waters. Today, Mahim
Creek is a vastly
different story. The
creek is still flowing,
however it now functions
as a giant toilet for the
neighboring community
draining sewage from
homes and businesses.
The once crystalline
water is now brown and
polluted, and smells of
human waste.
The stench, along with marginal environmental conditions kept Dharavi a dark spot on the map of Mumbai for much
of the 20th century. At first Dharavi was little more than a sparsely developed area on the periphery of the
city. Authorities developed a plan for Dharavi in the late 1940s, but the plan’s vision for the area was never
realized. As the city of Mumbai grew and high-density development pushed north, developers continued to ignore
Dharavi, leap-frogging the area to develop further out from the central city. Land development in Dharavi was
left to the urban poor and new arrivals from the surrounding hinterlands.
DHARAVI
Dharavi is a combination shantytown/high-rise squatter community. In some areas three- and four-story
buildings front both sides of extremely narrow alleys.
Development in
Dharavi over the
past two decades has
been fueled in part
by the growth of
Mumbai. Mumbai is one
of the world’s most
expensive cities, and
rising land prices
have put pressure
on the city’s slums.
Dharavi has become
valuable territory
as the city continues
to expand around it.
Its location makes
it an ideal location
for redevelopment.
Dharavi has perhaps
the best access to
mass transit of any
city neighborhood.
It is surrounded by 4
train stations: Mahim
Junction, Matunga
Road, Matunga, Kings
Circle.
DHARAVI

Dharavi continues to attract recent arrivals to the city. The majority of the 300 people immigrating to Mumbai
each day land in Dharavi. They come looking for jobs in the community’s numerous informal economies. Cheap
rents and little regulation make Dharavi a magnet for small businesses considered undesirable in other parts of
the cities. Slaughterhouses, tanneries, illicit distilleries, and e-waste processors line many of Dharavi’s
sidestreets and back alleys. Local researchers estimates that there are 10,000 small-scale house industries,
often working as jobbers for other larger Dharavi wholesalers. By his count, Dharavi is home to 5000 small
printing businesses, and 4000 garment businesses. Exact figures are difficult to obtain since all of these
businesses are technically illegal. Unofficially, the total turnover of these businesses amounts to around
$1 million each day.
These businesses rely on unregulated, illegal
space to maintain their modest profit margins.
Because the businesses in Dharavi don’t
have licenses, they don’t pay taxes. This
allows them to charge much less for the same
services. The businesses also take advantage
of the abundant supply of cheap labor. New
arrivals to the slum are usually willing to
work for much less than established residents
from other squatter communities.