How a Slum is Born

When the rich are developing a plot of land into a mall, tall building, or apartment complex they allow the workers to live on the work site. This simplifies the logistics and makes work possible at any hour of the day. The government and the builders zone this settlement as the “legal slum”. The workers illegally bring their families into their settlement. The settlement gets much bigger. Since the settlement is usually placed in an area with undeveloped land the expansion is absorbed into the surrounding area. Refugees from all sorts of of life events come into the slum and begin to the settle as well. When the building project is over the legal slum is demolished. The newly houseless retreat into the settled slum or try to move to the next work site. Once the building is complete the maintenance, maids, doormen, drivers, and other services that the development requires are hired from the local slum dwellers. Amazing how they depend on each other so directly.

Dharavi-Mumbai-copia1Now some people in the slum have a permanent income. The community settles and life carries on until the settled slum land is set for development and the cycle starts over again. This creates the phenomena of a “moving slum”. When a single slum community is moved many times. Some slums get so large that moving them would create a humanitarian crisis. This is the case with the mega-slum, Dharavi, in Mumbai. The slums has over million people living in roughly one square mile of land. The slum is permanent for the foreseeable future. The world’s largest slum by population is no longer in Mumbai the award has moved to Mexico City. Its fascinating to examine how the rich and the poor live symbiotically in India.

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