Dharavi, Slum for Sale

Lutz Konermann
Germany, India, Switzerland 2010 | 80 Min. | 35 mm, OmU
Q&A with: Lutz Konermann

Bombay, Indi­a’s gate­way to the West, has rein­vent­ed itself and emerged as Mumbai, a modern, self­con­fi­dent com­mer­cial metrop­o­lis. A magnet for the hopes of the rich and poor. But with thou­sands of migrants pour­ing in every day, half of its almost 20 mil­lion inhab­i­tants is forced to live in slums, between the cracks of the offi­cial city. The biggest of these slums is called Dhar­avi. With an esti­mat­ed 800,000 inhab­i­tants, it is one of the most dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed areas in the world. Once Dhar­avi was out­side the city limits. Nowa­days it’s at the heart of a con­stant­ly grow­ing metrop­o­lis, flanked by traf­fic arter­ies and right next door to Mum­bai’s new finan­cial hub. The former marsh has turned into prime real estate a play­ground for ambi­tious urban plan­ning. Ten years ago, UStrained archi­tect Mukesh Mehta has come back to India to usher in a new turn in Mum­bai’s slum reha­bil­i­ta­tion poli­cies. His for­mu­la is Public Pri­vate Part­ner­ship. Bil­lions of Dol­lars could be made if the respon­si­bil­i­ty for a rad­i­cal makeover of Dhar­avi were to be put into the hands of pri­vate investors. The gov­ern­ment has been per­suad­ed by Mehta’s vision and has appoint­ed him as the con­sul­tant for the Dhar­avi Rede­vel­op­ment Project. While thou­sands of fam­i­lies living and work­ing in the slum are facing the threat of being evict­ed, Dhar­avi is becom­ing a test case. Not only for Mumbai or India, but for the future of the under­priv­i­leged of the entire world.