Mumbai: the Infernal Megalopolis

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It’s one of the most populous cities on the planet with 22 million inhabitants, predicted to increase to 30 million by 2035. Nicknamed ‘the infernal Metropolis’, Mumbai is a city in perpetual development. But with millions of people living in slums located on valuable real estate, how can city planners balance the competing needs of the population? In Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, over one million people are packed into the slum. But although its residents are poor, there’s a real dynamism. Mahesh, 27, was born and lives in this slum and would never leave it. He runs a recycling plant and employs around 20 people. Dharavi’s underground economy is thought to generate 800 million euros per year. But it also lies on prime real estate in the very centre of Mumbai so its future is in doubt. Every day, new towers of glass or concrete emerge from the earth. With the support of the municipality, real estate tycoon, Babulal Varma, razes slums to build luxury apartments for the upper classes. As the city constantly expands, it pushes into the surrounding forests and natural spaces, such as Sanjay Gandhi Park. The fifty leopards who live there regularly make forays into the new housing estates. They attack stray dogs, but also the inhabitants. Each year, several people are killed by feline attacks. At night, forest department rangers patrol to prevent leopard incursions.

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