Kristian Bertel | Photography
Archive story
In this archive story we are learning about the sanitation in Dharavi in the city of Mumbai in Maharashtra, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Dharavi is located in the heart of Mumbai, between the city's two main rail lines for short-distance traffic, the Western Railway and the Central Railway and to the west of this place are the districts of Mahim and Bandra and north of Dharavi is the River Mithi, which flows into the Arabian Sea and south and east of Dharavi are the districts of Sion and Matunga. Both the location and poor drainage make Dharavi prone to flooding during the rainy season.
Dharavi is located in the heart of Mumbai, between the city's two main rail lines for short-distance traffic, the Western Railway and the Central Railway and to the west of this place are the districts of Mahim and Bandra and north of Dharavi is the River Mithi, which flows into the Arabian Sea and south and east of Dharavi are the districts of Sion and Matunga. Both the location and poor drainage make Dharavi prone to flooding during the rainy season.
Kristian Bertel, Photographer By Kristian Bertel, Photographer
– Updated on March 22, 2024

Dharavi "The heart of Mumbai"

Dharavi is a locality in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, considered to be one of Asia's largest slums. Dharavi has an area of just over 2.1 km² and a population of about 1,000,000. With a population density of over 277,136 km², Dharavi is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

When was Dharavi founded?

The Dharavi slum was founded in 1884 during the British colonial era and grew because the expulsion of factories and residents from the peninsular city centre by the colonial government and from the migration of poor rural Indians into urban Mumbai.

Poor rural Indians into urban Mumbai
For this reason, Dharavi is currently a highly diverse settlement religiously and ethnically. Dharavi has an active informal economy in which numerous household enterprises employ many of the slum residents-leather, textiles and pottery products are among the goods made inside Dharavi. The total annual turnover has been estimated at over $1 billion dollars. Dharavi has suffered from many epidemics and other disasters, including a widespread plague in 1896 which killed over half of the population of Mumbai.

Sanitation in the slum
Sanitation in the slums remains poor. Mumbai's increasing population over the years has caused a shortage of land and a restricted supply of clean drinking water and healthy sanitation. There is a lack of public sanitation in the slum. Poor drainage systems make it impossible to have sustainable health. The low access of the toilet facilities forces people to use the local river, this leads to another problem, contagious diseases. Sanitation refers to public health conditions related to clean drinking water and adequate treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage. Preventing human contact with feces is part of sanitation, as is hand washing with soap.

Stopping the transmission of disease
Sanitation systems aim to protect human health by providing a clean environment that will stop the transmission of disease, especially through the fecal-oral route. For instance, 'Diarrhea', a main cause of malnutrition and stunted growth in children, can be reduced through adequate sanitation. There are many other diseases which are easily transmitted in communities that have low levels of sanitation, such as ascariasis a type of intestinal worm infection or 'Helminthiasis', 'Cholera', 'Hepatitis', 'Polio', 'Schistosomiasis' and 'Trachoma', to name just a few.

"A sanitation system includes the capture, storage, transport, treatment and disposal or reuse of human excreta and wastewater. Reuse activities within the sanitation system may focus on the nutrients, water, energy or organic matter contained in excreta and wastewater"

Sanitation technologies
A range of sanitation technologies and approaches exists. Some examples are community-led total sanitation, container-based sanitation, ecological sanitation, emergency sanitation, environmental sanitation, onsite sanitation and sustainable sanitation. This is referred to as the sanitation value chain or sanitation economy and the people responsible for cleaning, maintaining, operating or emptying a sanitation technology at any step of the sanitation chain are called 'Sanitation workers'. Urban planning answers questions about how people will live, work and play in a given area and thus, guides orderly development in urban, suburban and rural areas.

Although predominantly concerned with the planning of settlements and communities, urban planners are also responsible for planning the efficient transportation of goods, resources, people and waste and the distribution of basic necessities such as water and electricity, a sense of inclusion and opportunity for people of all kinds, culture and needs, enablement of economic growth through concepts like the Innovation district and ensuring blue zones and conserving areas of natural environmental significance that actively contributes to reduction in CO₂ emission as well as protecting heritage structures and built environments. Urban planning is a dynamic field since the questions around how people live, work and play changes with time. These changes are constantly reflected in planning methodologies, zonal codes and policies making it a highly technical, political, social, economical and environmental field.

Urban planning in the heart of Mumbai
Urban planning is an interdisciplinary field that includes social science, architecture, human geography, politics, engineering and design sciences. Practitioners of urban planning are concerned with research and analysis, strategic thinking, architecture, urban design, public consultation, policy recommendations, implementation and management and it is closely related to the field of urban design and some urban planners provide designs for streets, parks, buildings and other urban areas.

Urban planners work with the cognate fields of architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering and public administration to achieve strategic, policy and sustainability goals and early urban planners were often members of these cognate fields though today, urban planning is a separate, independent professional discipline. But even today, it is not uncommon for architects and engineers to get additional qualifications to work as urban planners. This is because the discipline of urban planning is the broader category that includes different sub-fields such as land-use planning, zoning, economic development, environmental planning and transportation planning in addition to field like market research, citizen engagement, sustainability and environment studies.

Creating the plans requires a thorough understanding penal codes and zonal codes og planning. Once the plans are created, the ideas must be approved by the city council or the governing body and this approval process is fundamentally political in nature in India.

See this video from Dharavi made by The Hindu.

The photographer's own experience of being in Dharavi
"- Stepping into Dharavi, the world's largest slum, was an experience that left me both humbled and inspired. As I navigated the labyrinthine alleyways, I was overwhelmed by the sheer vibrancy and energy of this bustling community. The air was thick with the aroma of spices and the sounds of laughter, chatter and the clanging of metal from countless workshops", the Photographer says.

"- Dharavi is a place of contrasts, where poverty and resilience coexist in a remarkable harmony. I was struck by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the residents, who have transformed this densely packed area into a thriving hub of industry. From recycling plastic and metal to manufacturing leather goods and pottery, Dharavi's inhabitants have created a self-sustaining economy that provides employment for millions
", the Photographer says again.

"- Amidst the chaos, I found moments of profound beauty. I witnessed children playing with such innocent joy, their faces lit up by the simple pleasures of life. I saw women working together in harmony, their hands creating intricate patterns on textiles and I encountered men proudly showcasing their craftsmanship, their eyes filled with pride in their creations
. So my visit to Dharavi transformed my perspective on poverty. It showed me that even in the face of immense challenges, there is always room for hope and resilience. The residents of Dharavi have found a way to thrive in their circumstances and their story is a testament to the human spirit's ability to overcome adversity", the Photographer says again.

Read also:  Slum children of Dharavi

Slum children of Dharavi

Read also:  Slum children of Dharavi

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a Dharavi in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.