All around the world, populations are increasing at a rapid rate. More than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. The combination of rapid urbanization, scarce resources, and high population growth are taking a toll on individuals living in slums in poor areas such as Mumbai. Since Mumbai is a pretty expensive place to live in, it is home to some of the world’s richest and poorest people. “Today, over half of Mumbai’s population of over 15 million lives in settlements, occupying only 8% of the city’s area” (Anand and Rademacher).
It is the largest slum in the world. The government thinks it is best to get rid of the slum because the land is very valuable, but demolishing this slum would cause disastrous effects to the city as a whole. As the slum population in Mumbai rapidly increases, it is essential to upgrade the current living areas instead of eliminating them considering that the slums provide many benefits to the community such as consuming less resources, and being homes to a vast number of individuals that make up the majority of the working class.
The slum can be seen as a self sufficient, self-sustaining village community. The reason that individuals move to slums is most likely because of their rural villages being struck by drought and desertification caused by climate change. The slum is also unexpectedly green because of their maximum density. Compared to individuals who live in areas of lower densities, people in slums use fewer resources since they are so densely packed together. “Eighty percent of the city’s people live in homes less than 100 square feet in area” (Anand and Rademacher).
They are forced to conserve all the resources that are available to them because it has to be spread throughout the entire slum community. Since people in the slums get around by foot, rickshaw, bicycle or taxi, they use much less energy and resources than those in the city who uses cars everyday. Slum dwellers tend to have a much lower ecological footprint. Although it is lacking in physical infrastructure, slums have limited ethnic tension and a closely knitted community compared to the higher levels of society. It may seem like a disorganized, but in the slums, small factories are scattered throughout the area.
The common types of factories found in slums are printmakers, embroiders, recycling operations, garment factories, and food processors (Yardley). These factories serve as a large part of the income in the city. Almost everything is make in Dharavi and is sold in India as well as exported around the world. The removal of slums would take a toll on the workforce. The people in slums make up for more than fifty percent of the population in Mumbai. Most people in slums are in dire need for jobs to support their families. People in slums work hard at the job they are given.
They work long hours, sometimes from dawn to dusk and the money they earn are usually sent back to their families. “Everyday, thousands of workers in India’s most crowded slum – 600,000 people squeezed into 500 acres in the heart of Mumbai – shred plastic, mend clothes, strip computers, sort and bundle paper, fix machinery, fatten cardboard and clean and crush glass” (Robinson). Usually in Mumbai, a person is hired for cheap labor and makes around four dollar in US currency per month. Slum dwellers provide all the services in Mumbai.
It is estimated the slums are responsible for the majority of India’s annual economic growth and that it makes up ninety percent of the city’s employment (Yardley). The government also depends on the people in the slums to vote since most adults who can vote are located within slums. Eliminating the slums is eliminating a simple way of life. Thousands and thousands of people would be left with nowhere to go if the slums were to be torn down. Rapid urbanization in the city will lead to more informal settlements and poverty if the slum situation is not solved. Upgrading slums should involve legal, physical, social, and economic aspects.
The government should spend less money on remodeling the tourist areas and trying to alleviate the problems of the slums and try to upgrade the living conditions instead. The government can start by using the money they receive from tourism to fix the water supply and sewage system, and providing durable houses or adequate living spaces. Sanitation should also be enforced in the slum areas. Moving families from their informal settlement into a newly developed area with a single-family home with education nearby can be another way the slum situation can be slowly solved.
Slum people should be hired by the government to help build these houses because it is benefiting not only the slum dwellers, but also the government as well. By hiring the slum dwellers, the government can pay them much less than they would pay professional architectural builders. Although it will take years and a lot of money, upgrading slums is possible if done step by step. It is a much better solution than getting rid of slums. Slums are what make a city successful. It is an important part of the development and growth of a city.
Slums don’t really make people poor, they attract people that are poor who want to be rich. Works Cited Anand, Nikhil, and Anne Rademacher. “Housing in the Urban Age: Inequality and Aspiration in Mumbai. ” 43. 5 (2011): 1748-772. Academic Search Premier. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. Robinson, Simon. “Remaking Mumbai. ” 171. 7 (2008): 1-4. EBSCOhost. com. Time Inc. , 18 Feb. 2008. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. Yardley, Jim. “INDIA’S WAY; In One Slum, Misery, Work, Politics and Hope. ” The New York Times. The New York Times, 29 Dec. 2011. Web. 02 Mar. 2013.