Environment & Urbanization

World leading environmental and urban studies journal

Re-interpreting, Re-imagining, Re-developing Dharavi


Other authors: 

Focus country: 

Focus city: 

Published by: 
SPARC and Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies

Publisher town: 


This book presents the case for an alternative strategy to develop Dharavi – that works with and supports its hundreds of thousands of inhabitants and tens of thousands of enterprises. Section I reminds the reader that Dharavi has a long history, as it was developed by potters and tanners more than 130 years ago. It also describes with pictures and maps the vibrant mosaic of businesses and residents of different religions, castes, languages, provinces and ethnicities that are concentrated in Dharavi’s two square kilometres. It is “the city of enterprise”, and here you eat the best gulab jamuns (a type of sweet) in Mumbai, buy the best chikki (peanuts and sugar), get an international standard leather handbag, order WHO-certified sutures for surgery, see the latest designs in ready-made garments, get a new suitcase or an old one repaired and buy traditional south Indian gold jewellery. Dharavi’s annual turnover is worth several hundred million dollars a year. It is home to 1,700 manufacturing units, including 152 food production operations, 50 printing presses, 111 restaurants, 722 scrap and recycling units, 25 bakeries and 30 large leather goods manufacturers; 5,000 people are employed in recycling and 2,000 families are involved in pottery making.

Section II describes the Dharavi Redevelopment Plan, which envisaged dividing the township into five sectors and inviting bids from consortia of national and international developers to develop each sector. This was to be done with no consultation with the residents. It was almost as if Dharavi were a greenfield site. These development plans were also to be undertaken with no baseline survey, no impact assessment on Dharavi’s economy and no clarity regarding who would be entitled to be re-housed and the form that this re-housing would take. Section II also describes the responses – as one comment notes, a world class city is not built with a bulldozer. Section III describes an alternative strategy that starts with and supports residents in small areas developing their own plans – for instance, starting with cooperative housing societies and chawls within small neighbourhoods (nagars) that have a sense of identity based on religion, social origin or shared working conditions. This includes getting residents to map out their living and working conditions and so map and document house types, public toilets, roads and alleys, institutions (including mosques and churches), educational and medical institutions and open spaces.

Search the Book notes database

Our Book notes database contains details and summaries of all the publications included in Book notes since 1993 - with details on how to obtain/download.

Use the search form above, or visit the Book notes landing page for more options and latest content.

For a searchable database for papers in Environment and Urbanization, go to http://eau.sagepub.com/