Mumbai is a city of contrasts. Here, the super-rich and slum dwellers live side by side. As more and more luxury skyscrapers go up, slums are forced to make way for them. Conflicts ensue. So what is life like, in a megacity with 20 million inhabitants?
In Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, more than a million people live in extremely crowded conditions. But the neighbourhood is dynamic. We meet Mahesh, 27, who was born in the slum and has never left. Today, he runs a recycling plant that employs about 20 people. Dharavi’s shadow economy is said to bring in 800 million euros a year.
However, the future of the neighbourhood is uncertain, as it sits on valuable property — located right in the city centre. With the support of local authorities, real estate magnate Babulal Varma is tearing down slums to build luxury housing for the upper classes. Will Dharavi survive? Mumbai is already one of the most populous cities in the world.
By 2035, the population is projected to rise drastically — to 30 million. The city’s inevitable expansion affects not only the people who live there, but also the forests that surround it. These include the “Sanjay Gandhi National Park”. Now, the leopards living in the park have started to make regular forays into new housing developments, looking for food. They attack stray dogs, as well as humans. As urbanization continues, the conflict between humans and wild animals is sure to become more dire.
By 2050, 6 billion people could be living in megacities. How should the challenges caused by rapid urbanization be handled in the world ahead? Film supported by @Mission Winnow
Video timeline: 00:00: What are megacities? 01:01: The problem with megacities 03:07: How is Ahmedabad tackling rapid urbanisation? 04:45: How can cities manage traffic? 07:04: The problem with waste 08:00: How is Recycle Central revolutionizing trash? 10:58: What are the most urgent issues to resolve?
More than 60 percent of China’s population of 1.4 billion currently lives in cities. Within a decade, the share of urban dwellers is expected to increase to 75 percent. Construction is booming and competition for residential land is fierce.
But the right to live in a city in China is conditional. Authorities want their modern cities to be peopled with well-educated, highly-qualified or politically well-connected residents. As a result, certain standards have to be met to be eligible for a modern, urban home. Only members of China’s political classes and the financially successful have a hope of qualifying. Yet more than half of the people who live in cities are so-called “migrant workers.” They come from rural communities and have no official rights to settle in cities. They are there to work. With no proper rights, they are merely tolerated while they serve as merchants, servants, waitstaff, cleaners, construction workers and tradespeople.
But while they are indispensible to daily life in the cities, they are unable to afford their exorbitant rents. This documentary looks at how and where these workers live, and asks whether middle and working class Chinese even figure in the official vision of shiny, high-tech cities. The filmmakers also look at what happens to those who oppose official plans, or stand in the way of the building boom.