Why Survival Comes First In Mumbai Slums
3:38pm UK, Friday December 11, 2009
Anna Botting, Sky News presenter
The slum-dwellers of Dharavi still talk about when director Danny Boyle came to town to shoot Slumdog Millionaire.
Trash is turned into treasure in the slums - and the community thrives
He came, they say, with a small team with a handheld camera, they filmed quietly and then left.
If they'd made more fuss, and needed more help, there'd have been more money to be made.
It's all about money here, and square footage. In a place where people have nothing, everything has a value.
It used to be called the biggest slum in the world. A million people crammed into low-lying shacks of plywood, corrugated iron, asbestos and mud bricks.
But slums in Mexico City and Karachi have stolen that title and Dharavi itself is facing the pressures of development.
Its location is prime real-estate - between two railway lines in the centre of Mumbai, India's biggest city and the centre of commerce and business in this rapidly growing country.
From the bridge over the main water pipe you can see the city's new stock exchange, as high rise buildings encircle the slum, as if preying on its land.
The bridge itself has become a public toilet, the pavement littered with faeces baking in the sun. A barefoot mother and child walk along the pipe, where the rubbish is piled high.
Slum dwellers scratch a living
But in this pit of humanity, trash is turned to treasure and the community thrives.
Everything is recycled in Dharavi. Plastic bottle tops are carefully sorted by colour; radiators are prised apart to reveal valuable copper; tin cans for cooking oil are buffed from rust to shine to be re-used; cardboard is stacked; plastic bags shredded into pellets; old mirrors, though broken, are stored carefully; and a bright red '50% off Sale' sign makes a colourful awning.
In a house 180 square feet downstairs, the same upstairs (the size, for us, of a...