Michael Bothager

Photographer

Maximum City Maximum Slum

“And perhaps in abodes of poverty, where health, learning, shelter and security are not birthrights, the soul is not a birthright either.” William T. Vollmann, The Atlas

No one knows exactly how many people live in Mumbai, India. In 2007 the United Nation's estimated that 19 million people lives there. This is more people than the populations of small countries like Denmark, Norway and Sweden put together - stuck in a city slightly larger than 5 x Manhattan Island. This makes Mumbai to the most densely populated city in the world.

Every day up to 300 families arrives in the city in pursuit of a better life. A life where shelter, clean drinking water and access to toilets is not a right but a privilege. More than half the city's residents lives in slum or on the streets.

Mumbai, known as Maximum City and The City of Dreams, is where the extremes meet. The worlds largest slum population lives next door to some of the worlds richest people.

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Dharavi, the second largest slum in Asia, wedged between Mumbai’s two railways and under a string of power pylons.
Dharavi, the second largest slum in Asia, wedged between Mumbai’s two railways and under a string of power pylons.
A view from top 34th floor of the fashionable hotel Four Seasons over the Worli district, one of the higher class areas in Mumbai with slum pockets nestling between the highrisers. More than 2.000 slum pockets is scattered around Mumbai.
A view from top 34th floor of the fashionable hotel Four Seasons over the Worli district, one of the higher class areas in Mumbai with slum pockets nestling between the highrisers. More than 2.000 slum pockets is scattered around Mumbai.
Much off the everyday activities takes place outdoor. Housing in the slums are tight, with a families living in an apartment smaller than an american garage.
Much off the everyday activities takes place outdoor. Housing in the slums are tight, with a families living in an apartment smaller than an american garage.
The Sagar Samede/Fisherman Colony wraps itself around two water pipes going downtown. Cramped houses and narrow alleys, lack of sanitation, drinking water and other amenities makes this place a slum, housing Koli fishermen and immigrants.
The Sagar Samede/Fisherman Colony wraps itself around two water pipes going downtown. Cramped houses and narrow alleys, lack of sanitation, drinking water and other amenities makes this place a slum, housing Koli fishermen and immigrants.
Chillies laid out for sale in a backstreet in the PMG Colony in Mankhurd.
Chillies laid out for sale in a backstreet in the PMG Colony in Mankhurd.
Just outside the PMG Colony in the Western Mumbai suburb Mankhurd, a market draws customers from the resettlement and the rest of Mankhurd, including a shantytown slum area.
Just outside the PMG Colony in the Western Mumbai suburb Mankhurd, a market draws customers from the resettlement and the rest of Mankhurd, including a shantytown slum area.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Shaikh family have lived in the camp in seven years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Shaikh family have lived in the camp in seven years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Chavan family have lived in the camp in five years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Chavan family have lived in the camp in five years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Ansari family have lived in the camp in five years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Ansari family have lived in the camp in five years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Pawar family have lived in the camp in five years.
Transit Camp 138A and 138B in Mankhurd is home to 2.500 families waiting for an apartment under the Slum Rehabilitation Authority. Families wait for up to 10 years, after their previous home in a slum area was demolished. The housing in the transit camp is very simple, a single room with dirt or tile floor, no water or sanitation. The Pawar family have lived in the camp in five years.
Living conditions are tight and livestock share the living space with people.
Living conditions are tight and livestock share the living space with people.
Karu Mugem, 29, works out in a small fitness club in Lallubhai Compound. The area is a resettlement for 11.000 families.
Karu Mugem, 29, works out in a small fitness club in Lallubhai Compound. The area is a resettlement for 11.000 families.
Vinyak, 10, checks the recharging of the family mobile phone. India is the country in the world with most mobile phones per capita.
Vinyak, 10, checks the recharging of the family mobile phone. India is the country in the world with most mobile phones per capita.
View over Mumbai from Aer Bar on the top of The Four Seasons Hotel. From the posh bar patrons can look down over slum, a racecourse and houses in Mumbai.
View over Mumbai from Aer Bar on the top of The Four Seasons Hotel. From the posh bar patrons can look down over slum, a racecourse and houses in Mumbai.
Everywhere in Mumbai small telephone shops, from which interstate and international calls can be made. The charges in the shops are much lower than using the ever present mobile phone. Almost half the population has a mobile phone, but only 1/3 has their own toilets.
Everywhere in Mumbai small telephone shops, from which interstate and international calls can be made. The charges in the shops are much lower than using the ever present mobile phone. Almost half the population has a mobile phone, but only 1/3 has their own toilets.
Even though the majority of Mumbai’s residents are hindu, one in sixth is a muslim. Halal butcher Sulejman Ashek has his small store in the Joyit Nagar slum. During a weekend, he slaughters 8‐10 goats, which has been stored in the shop during the week.
Even though the majority of Mumbai’s residents are hindu, one in sixth is a muslim. Halal butcher Sulejman Ashek has his small store in the Joyit Nagar slum. During a weekend, he slaughters 8‐10 goats, which has been stored in the shop during the week.
The Dharavi slum became famous in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. Daily life in Dharavi has since become a tourist attraction. Small groups of five is escorted around the slum by guides.
The Dharavi slum became famous in the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”. Daily life in Dharavi has since become a tourist attraction. Small groups of five is escorted around the slum by guides.
An empty apartment block has become the home of squatters, The resettlement projects are not as successful as expected, partly due the financial crisis.
An empty apartment block has become the home of squatters, The resettlement projects are not as successful as expected, partly due the financial crisis.
The area is an slum resettlement with 11.000 families, and is wedged between three other slums, housing around one million people. Mangal Podi, 32, has for the last five years had a view over the Sathe Nagar slum.
The area is an slum resettlement with 11.000 families, and is wedged between three other slums, housing around one million people. Mangal Podi, 32, has for the last five years had a view over the Sathe Nagar slum.
Sagar (10, right) plays a game with his friends Ali and Juneid.
Sagar (10, right) plays a game with his friends Ali and Juneid.
Sheela Laxman Sarte, 60, lives in a small shantytown with her husband Prakesh Yadav, 55, behind Transit Camp 138B in Mankhurd. A single row of 18 shacks makes up the shantytown.
Sheela Laxman Sarte, 60, lives in a small shantytown with her husband Prakesh Yadav, 55, behind Transit Camp 138B in Mankhurd. A single row of 18 shacks makes up the shantytown.
A small health clinic run by the NGO Apnalaya services the nearby communities of slum. The clinic has an average of 30‐40 patients a day, depending on the season. During the monsoon, the count goes up.
A small health clinic run by the NGO Apnalaya services the nearby communities of slum. The clinic has an average of 30‐40 patients a day, depending on the season. During the monsoon, the count goes up.
The official statistics indicate that more than 100.000 residents do not have a home. They live in the streets close by their jobs, or with friends and family.
The official statistics indicate that more than 100.000 residents do not have a home. They live in the streets close by their jobs, or with friends and family.
Koli Fishermen preparing nets in Cuffe Parade, a Koli colony near Nariman Point, South Mumbai. Cuffe Parade consists of 1000 families and 350 fishing boats.
Koli Fishermen preparing nets in Cuffe Parade, a Koli colony near Nariman Point, South Mumbai. Cuffe Parade consists of 1000 families and 350 fishing boats.
Small workshops is everywhere, tucked away In small lofts or in narrow alleys. To get into this sewing workshop, you have to climb a ladder against the wall and wiggle your way through a two feet gap.
Small workshops is everywhere, tucked away In small lofts or in narrow alleys. To get into this sewing workshop, you have to climb a ladder against the wall and wiggle your way through a two feet gap.
The slums do not have any sewers. Waste water from households and workshops, and rainwater in from the Monsoon, is led by narrow gutters in the alleys.
The slums do not have any sewers. Waste water from households and workshops, and rainwater in from the Monsoon, is led by narrow gutters in the alleys.
Stairwell
Stairwell
Early morning at Sathe Nagar. Baburao Bhawaskar cleans his autorickshaw in Sathe Nagar, where he have lived for 20 years with his family of 7. 100.000 3‐wheeled auto rickshaws and 1 million other vehicles are one of Mumbai’s worst pollution sources.
Early morning at Sathe Nagar. Baburao Bhawaskar cleans his autorickshaw in Sathe Nagar, where he have lived for 20 years with his family of 7. 100.000 3‐wheeled auto rickshaws and 1 million other vehicles are one of Mumbai’s worst pollution sources.
Dharavi is a thriving business hub, with thousands and thousands of business’. Residents here have lived here for generations, and are not inclined to move out as part of the slum rehabilitation schemes.
Dharavi is a thriving business hub, with thousands and thousands of business’. Residents here have lived here for generations, and are not inclined to move out as part of the slum rehabilitation schemes.
Morning rush hour at Victoria Station, where 5,5 million passengers pass each workday. The bus terminal adjacent to the stations packs the busses full before leaving. A total 11 million people are transported by rail and busses every day.
Morning rush hour at Victoria Station, where 5,5 million passengers pass each workday. The bus terminal adjacent to the stations packs the busses full before leaving. A total 11 million people are transported by rail and busses every day.
Mumbai’s 2 major railways ends in southern Mumbai. A daily commute of 2‐4 hours is not uncommon.
Mumbai’s 2 major railways ends in southern Mumbai. A daily commute of 2‐4 hours is not uncommon.
The Tata Colony opposite the high‐profile Bandra‐Krula Complex is a transit camp for mainly slum dwellers from Dharavi, who have had their homes demolished. They live in old chawls here for 15‐20 years, waiting for a new apartment as part of the rehabilitation projects under SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Project).
The Tata Colony opposite the high‐profile Bandra‐Krula Complex is a transit camp for mainly slum dwellers from Dharavi, who have had their homes demolished. They live in old chawls here for 15‐20 years, waiting for a new apartment as part of the rehabilitation projects under SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Project).
Vasanti Padma is one Mumbai’s 100.000 homeless. Since 1984 she and her family have lived on the pavement in front of Mahim Station.
Vasanti Padma is one Mumbai’s 100.000 homeless. Since 1984 she and her family have lived on the pavement in front of Mahim Station.
Every night a karate training session takes place for the children in the PMG Colony and neighbouring areas.
Every night a karate training session takes place for the children in the PMG Colony and neighbouring areas.
Chander, 7, on his way to summer school. He lives in the slum of Mharashta Nagar in Mankhurd.
Chander, 7, on his way to summer school. He lives in the slum of Mharashta Nagar in Mankhurd.
Transit Camp 138B has no water supply. The residents are forced to buy water at 1 Rupee pr. 35 litres.  The water is taken from the neighbouring slum Sathe Nagar.
Transit Camp 138B has no water supply. The residents are forced to buy water at 1 Rupee pr. 35 litres. The water is taken from the neighbouring slum Sathe Nagar.
Sudat, 12, dives into a container filled with garbage and sewage to find plastic. A total of 4 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year in Mumbai, and is the source of income for workers in the recycling industry.
Sudat, 12, dives into a container filled with garbage and sewage to find plastic. A total of 4 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year in Mumbai, and is the source of income for workers in the recycling industry.
Lallubhai Compound was completed in 2003, and is the home of 11.000 families in 40 apartment blocks.
Lallubhai Compound was completed in 2003, and is the home of 11.000 families in 40 apartment blocks.
150 families live on the streets near Mahim Station. During the day they hide their personal belongings behind the wall so the police do not evict them from the pavement.
150 families live on the streets near Mahim Station. During the day they hide their personal belongings behind the wall so the police do not evict them from the pavement.
In the early hours in the morning, waste is burned in the open areas at Lallubhai Compound.
In the early hours in the morning, waste is burned in the open areas at Lallubhai Compound.
The alleys between the buildings in Lallubhai Compound is so narrow that a car hardly can pass. Leaking sewage pipes and litter oozes in the summer heat, making the smell unbearable.
The alleys between the buildings in Lallubhai Compound is so narrow that a car hardly can pass. Leaking sewage pipes and litter oozes in the summer heat, making the smell unbearable.
Slum pocket in Bandra, one of Mumbai’s most desired uptown suburbs. A muslim boy is on his way the nearby Mosque.
Slum pocket in Bandra, one of Mumbai’s most desired uptown suburbs. A muslim boy is on his way the nearby Mosque.