– Advocate Girish Raut
Mumbai’s centrally located area of Dharavi is like a mini India. This assumes special significance in the context of the Corona pandemic. Dharavi supplies the labour force to Mumbai. Besides providing industrial, construction as well as all other kinds of labour including women domestic workers, housemaids, etc, this sprawling slum cum industrial enterprise of Dharavi is day and night abuzz with manufacturing goods like leather products, furniture, pottery, food items and many other industrial products.
This place is Asia’s largest reprocessing and recycling centre for all kinds of waste or refuge, which people refer to as “garbage”, coming as it is from all across Mumbai’s homes and commercial as well as industrial establishments. Everyday evening at about 7pm, tempos carrying all kinds of industrial and household waste-cum-garbage from all corners of Mumbai line up here in Dharavi.
The real responsibility of doing this job, i.e. recycling and reprocessing of waste is of the goods manufacturing industry, consumers of these goods and of the government of the day. But they don’t do it and instead the destitute class of Dharavi, coming as it is from all across India, does this important, challenging unhygienic job in most hostile conditions.
Fundamentally and essentially, industrialisation is anti-life and anti-earth, but given the present world of limited and narrow understanding, Dharavi has assumed a special place of importance and pride in Mumbai.
Like thousands travel to BKC (Bandra Kurla complex) and tens of thousands to Nariman Point, every day morning and return back in the evening, similarly tens of thousands of people travel from Dharavi to Mumbai to offer their labour and return back in the evening. People connected with many industrial activities travel to and fro.
Here population density is highest in Mumbai and probably in the world too, i.e. 0.5 million people per Square kilometre. Hence it is extremely essential to contain and control the Corona virus here. Till that happens, Lockdown should not be lifted. Till date there has not been an exponential or explosive rise of Corona cases, should not in any case become a ground to make us care free.
Some celebrity names from Industry like Infosys’s Narayan Murthy are making abjectly wrong and dangerous statements. Even after having due respect for their respective qualities in their areas of work, it is essential and pertinent here to say that they have very limited knowledge and understanding about earth’s ecosystems, natural phenomena and human beings as well as their interrelation. Their ideas about livelihood and life are artificial and unrealistic. They are seriously mistaking themselves as life givers and livelihood providers.
The industrialisation which constitutes their respective industries has been solely responsible for corona, cancer and the ongoing global warming which has reached a stage wherein it is sure to make the human race extinct in next three to four decades. They have no inkling that their respective enterprises and industrialisation is responsible for the typical situation of destruction of food production due to untimely rains, snow falls, extreme storms, heat waves, depleting ground water, advancing deserts, which had not happened in last ten thousand years of agricultural age and even in tens of millions of years before that.
For Industrialists and businessmen, human beings are manpower, machine, raw material or human capital. General Public and government should exercise all the care of not getting swayed by their ignorance. For the government. they are humans, citizens. Hence govt. has to do everything to protect its citizens’ lives. Till now a great corona tragedy could be averted primarily due to spring season, relentless efforts of all concerned, maturity of the common public and necessary measures including lockdown.
Gathering crowds show that the recent government decision to open liquor shops is going to add to the problem.
All care should be exercised to make Dharavi and all other areas corona free as early as possible!
*Author is Convener, Save Life and Save Earth Movement, India.