Suburban Mumbai slums outsize Dharavi as Asia's largest

Now, 78 percent of Mumbai's population lives in slums, reveals raw census data


Geetanjali Minhas | July 7, 2011

Mumbai's Dharavi may have lost its 'Asia's largest slum' tag. The new census shows that at least four larger suburban slums have come up in the city, some of which are about three times the size of the 557 acre slum housing over three lakh people.

Raw data from the 2011 census reveals that large slums have come up in the Kurla-Ghatkopar, Mankhurd-Govandi areas and the Bhandup-Mulund area along the slopes of the Yogi and Yeoor hills. There's one at Dindoshi which flanks the western wing of the Sanjay Gandhi National park too.

The Mankhurd-Govandi slums near Deonar in the central suburbs are known as 'dumping ground" because of their proximity to the Deonar landfill. The area  has the lowest human development index in the city, with high rates of death due to malnutrition and disease.

Despite policy intiatives, slums continue to grow in suburban Mumbai. While the data puts the populations of island city at 3.1 crore and of the suburbs at 9.3 crores, it also says that 78 percent of Mumbai's population lives in slums. The population density of the suburban parts of Mumbai, at 20,925 persons per square km, is the highest in Maharashtra.

As per 2001 census, the island city's population was 1.19 crore with 64.5 lakh people (54.2 percent of the population) living in slums.

Since 2005, BMC's (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) road widening projects have effectively cleared out slums from the island city except for peripheries  like Dharavi in the north, Antop Hill in the east, Geeta Nagar and Ambedkar Nagar in the south and Worli Village in the west. The civic body successfully cleared slums along  Senapati Bapat Marg , Mahim to Elphinstone Road and at P D’Mello Road from the General Post Office  and along the Mumbai CST to Wadal route.

Architect and civic rights activist PK Das, who recently met the chief minister Prithviraj  Chavan over the city's planning said,“Nearly 55 percent of slums are on land reserved for housing. Only 17 percent are on land reserved for open spaces and 10 percent are on land designated as natural reserves.”

Das further said that the government must reserve all slum land for affordable housing. “Instead of  allowing part of land to be commercially exploited in exchange for free housing the government must construct affordable houses ranging from 300 sq ft to 600 sq feet following town planning norms which are completely absent in all slum projects right now.”



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