Apparently, we just can't avoid talking about Mumbai slum area or in general what we call as Mumbai Dharavi slum; if we are talking about Mumbai. The Mumbai slum area have always existed as an inseparable part in that sense. Long back in the time when even the fort was developed, the Mumbai slum area have always been close to the native villages. The Mumbai slum area or slums never required any planning, implementation of facilities/ daily needs such as water, proper drainage and sewage systems or any such infrastructure/ construction; which has finally instigated many problems in the lives of the dwellers.
The well-known NY Times' columnist, Mr. Giridharadas has once said about the city that, “This is at once a city of paradise and of hell. But Mumbai's paradox is that it is often the dwellers of paradise who feel themselves in hell and the dwellers of hell who feel themselves in paradise.”
We all know that Mumbai is one of the city in India which is a fascinating one and may be that is the reason why people call it a 'city of dreams'. But at the same time if you look at the Mumbai slum area, it is completely extraordinary. The Mumbai slum population together make up the 60% of the total Mumbai's population that is approximately between 10 to 12 million according to the reports. And all this so called absurd Mumbai slum population, lives in ‘jhopad-pattis’ where living conditions are as bad as a ruptured ligament.
Mumbai slum population has shown a dramatic rise since the year 1950 and most of this was due to the fact that since India's independence in 1947, the city’s population has been tripled and counting. It was observed during several studies that before the year 1950, the Mumbai slums were predominantly found on the western part of the city known as Byculla or usually in the area around the mills. Expectedly, various issues like health, cleanliness and basic facilities were not being provided to the people but in contrary to that instead of going away, the Mumbai slum population have just spread.
According to several studies, the Mumbai slum population have increased by 18% in between the year 1950 to 1968 itself despite the fact that Mumbai, then Bombay underwent a slum clearance program implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai back in the year 1954. The popular Mumbai Dharavi slum, spread over 557 acres approximately and a shelter of nearly three lakh people; was once listed as the Asia's largest slum but with the passing time the other slum belts like the Mankhurd-Govandi belt, the Kurla-Ghatkopar belt, the Yeoor and Yogi hill slopes stretching from the eastern part of the city to the western flank of the city; have metamorphosed into contiguous, bigger slums.
The conditions in the Mumbai slum areas are terrible but the life there is definitely fascinating. Over so many movies based on the slum life out of which movies like Slumdog Millionaire and Salaam Bombay has won so many accolades across the world, a Mumbai slum tour is must for once in a lifetime experience.