This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Hitesh Mahawar. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Dharavi Is Not Just A Slum, It’s A Thriving Hub Of Industry

More from Hitesh Mahawar

Spread across almost 550 acres of land, and home to around 1 million people (50-60% labourers), Dharavi is one of the largest and oldest informal urban settlements of the world. It has developed over the 150 years from an island on a swampy and unused patch of land, to a much-discussed area at the heart of Mumbai.

Dharavi is a hub for small-scale industries (unorganized sectors such as leather industry, waste recycling industry, etc), and exports goods across the globe with an estimated annual turnover of around $ 1 billion. It has approximately 5,000 business entities, with 15,000 in-house single-room factories for production. Generally, people from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Gujarat come to work in these industries.

According to residents of Dharavi, 60% of Mumbai’s segregated waste comes to Dharavi for processing; indicating the vital role of waste recycling and processing units of Dharavi in maintaining and managing Mumbai’s solid waste management landscape. They are not only managing the waste, but they are making big money out of it and generating employment as well. Dharavi is home to some 30,000 rag pickers – scavengers who find and sort recyclable scraps from the city’s garbage dumps.

Small-Scale Industries/Factories

1) Leather industries:

It is the most prominent industry, with the highest share of turnover among all industries in Dharavi. Large profit margins are involved in these industries, attracting young entrepreneurs. Most of these units make use of animal skin (mainly Sheep, Goat, and Buffalo) collected from slaughterhouses for processing into leather. Animal skin is washed in a washing machine (made up of wood) with a large capacity, and then cut into the desired length.

After the cutting process, the leather piece is put into the pressing machine with the desired pattern and design. Semi-finished leather pieces, after pressing, are made into the final products, such as belt, purse, wallet, etc. These products are then exported to foreign brands in very large amounts.

2) Plastic recycling industries:

This industry has three phases in the recycling process. Mixed plastic waste is segregated and sorted on the basis of color and hardness. Segregated and sorted plastic waste is crushed in a crushing machine into plastic chips. Plastic chips are washed for dirt removal and then sun-dried before melting them to make into small plastic tablets or pellets. One recycling unit recycles, on an average, four tons of plastic waste a day.

3) Wax printing:

Wax printing is one of the oldest industries in Dharavi. Approximately 40-50 wax printing units are functional. Hot molten wax is applied to a cloth with the help of a wooden block having a desired pattern on the bottom. After solidification of wax, the cloth is colored. After drying, it is washed in hot water to remove wax so that the pattern
becomes visible on the cloth. The worker should be skilled enough to work in this industry, because wax printing requires a significant level of precision. Workers generally work 10 hours a day and are paid in the range of ₹500-800/day ($ 8-13/day).

4) Aluminium brick making industries:

This industry uses mixed metal waste as their raw material. In the first step, aluminium is separated from the mixed metal waste by using a magnetic separator. Separated scrap solid aluminium is melted in a furnace maintained at 660° centigrade (melting point of aluminium). Then molten aluminium is molded in the form of solid 5 KG bricks which have a market price of ₹5000 ($ 78) each.

5) Pottery making units:

This profession is generally performed by ‘kumbhar‘ community. The peak time for this profession is Diwali. At the time of Diwali, the whole area is covered by the smoke emitted by pottery kilns. This business is run by individual households. Each individual house has its own pottery kiln and a shop facing the road ahead of the house.

Conclusion

One can conclude, from this visit, that the Dharavi slum is far different from the general perception of the slum. It is a slum which has 5,000 different businesses, as well as industries which export the products of these businesses. It is a slum which has an annual turnover of more than $ 1 billion. The visit showed me what we can do with the waste of recycling industries and unused waste from dumps. I left with the thought that it’s not just a slum – it’s a slum with immense opportunities that lie within.


Hitesh Kumar Mahawar, M.Tech. Student at Centre for Technology Alternatives for Rural Areas (CTARA), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT Bombay) and Project Research Assistant at Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG), IIT Bombay. The research cited in this article is the author’s own.

You must be to comment.
  1. journalistpreet

    Laudable efforts brother… Go ahead with your high spirit.. May God bless you ????

More from Hitesh Mahawar

Similar Posts

By Amiya Bhaskara

By Shubham Singla

By Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI)

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below