I just read about Mumbai’s biggest and the largest slums…Dharavi. Least did I know it is a hub of workmanship for almost all the international, national and designer brands of bags, embroidery dresses, leather works, garments and accessories.
Dharavi is a slum over parts of Sion, Bandra, Kurla and Kalina suburbs of Mumbai, India. It is sandwiched between Mahim in the west and Sion in the east, and spread over an area of 175hectares, or 0.67 square miles (1.7 km2). In 1986, the population was estimated at 530,225, but modern Dharavi has a population of between 600,000 and over 1 million people. Dharavi is one of the largest slums in the world. Dharavi exports goods around the world. The total (and largely informal) turnover is estimated to be between US$500 million and over US$650 million per year.
Migrants from Gujarat established a potters’ colony, and Maharashtrian tanners belonging to the Charmarkar caste migrated to Dharavi and set up the leather tanning industry. Other artisans, like the embroidery workers from Uttar Pradesh, started the ready-made garments trade.
It would be wrongly pictured if I say people in the slum have poor living indeed I was astonished to see the quality to lifestyle they lived. Almost all the family living had small occupations to get them the best of the facilities. House wives do hand embroideries on scarves, tunics, dresses while men of the family either have their production units or work in any embroidery or stitching units to earn a decent living.
I would not say they have completely tension free lives. Living in congested lanes where in rains you have drainage problems, where water supply is scarce and threats from builders to evacuate the area. It takes great efforts to live there with grace.
UNITS IN DHARAVI
• Tanneries for small scale leather manufacturing, bag production for domestic as well as international market.
• Embroidery units for few well know Mumbai based designers and National and International brands, to name few as Fabindia, Zara.
• Production units for exports houses, local markets of Kurtis, T-shirts, Denims, Legging and the list goes on.
• Pottery supply for locals and exports.
Written and Photographed by : Rohit Gautam