Why Mumbai slum-dwellers fear Dharavi redevelopment
Rebuilding Dharavi on cards
Authorities have asked a developer to tear down and rebuild Dharavi, a bustling settlement in Mumbai known as the backdrop for Danny Boyle's hit 2008 movie "Slumdog Millionaire".
In pic: A young boy looking out from his house in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum in Mumbai.
Hive of economic activity
But the area defies most Western notions of a slum; Dharavi is a hive of economic activity and boasts an estimated annual turnover of more than a billion dollars.
Industries include pottery, leather and textiles -- about 5,000 businesses operate from around 15,000 one-room workshops. Masses of rubbish are also separated there for recycling.
"We have been living and working here for over 100 years... You'll have to shoot us before building your towers here," says potter Mepa Gudiya, who exports earthenware across India and abroad.
In pic: A man working in a cloth dyeing factory in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum in Mumbai.
The ambitious scheme, projected to cost around $4 billion, will include demolishing tens of thousands of dilapidated slum houses and replacing them with several hundred towers up to 30 storeys high.
In pic: Workers sorting plastic at a factory in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum in Mumbai.
Fifteen-year-old Muskan Sheikh is excited by the prospect. She lives in a bathroom-less one-room house with five relatives sleeping head-to-toe. "I often have to wait 20 minutes in a line to use the toilet. During the night I just hold it in because I don't want to step outside," she says.
Many Dharavi residents are sceptical, however.
They would welcome new homes with private bathrooms and running water but worry that the intrinsic nature of Dharavi, where people live and work out of the same room, will disappear.
Sacks of plastic waste arranged
Today, dozens of tourists armed with cameras meander through the area's narrow alleys every day, dodging goats and handcarts as they peer into tin-roofed shanties and ramshackle workshops.
Dharavi is located in the centre of the coastal megapolis, close to the Bandra Kurla Complex business district, airport, a main railway station and a crucial waterway, making it appealing to developers.
Authorities are soon expected to survey Dharavi to determine how many families settled there before 2000, making them eligible for free homes.
Work will then commence, according to Shah who predicts that all slum dwellers will be rehoused within five years.
Residents are still to be convinced though.
In pic: Sacks of plastic waste arranged outside a factory in Dharavi, Asia's largest slum in Mumbai.