Dharavi Small Units on the Brink of Disaster -Amey Tirodkar

-The Hindu

Known as world's largest slum, Dharavi has another less known but more important identity. It is one of the most industrious localities in Mumbai, with small units of leather, garment, plastic and even bakery shops. Post-demonetisation, this huge production house is facing acute financial stress.

Rahul Ingale, 32, is depressed. Sitting in his shop in Shastri Nagar of Dharavi, Mumbai, Ingale, who deals in the leather market, is facing a huge debt. Carrying forward his family business, he buys leather from Kanpur, Lucknow, Kolkata and Chennai and sells it in Dharavi to a number of processing units. "I am in debt of Rs 75 lakh now. There is no business. Complete shutdown. We can't even pay the rent of our shop," he says.

Earlier, Ingale had engaged eight workers in his shop. Today, there is no one. In effect, eight unskilled youths have lost their jobs, leaving Ingale and his 62-years-old father, Shivaji Ingale, to manages the business. "We were unable to pay the salaries of those boys. So, now my father and I work," he says.

Beef Ban & Leather Goods

The ban on beef has taken a heavy toll on around 300 such shops in Dharavi. The locality was earlier a hub of leather works. But now many shops are either shut or are crawling under debt. "I am in this business for 45 years. I have never seen such a downfall in the market. It's tyranny on people like us. We are left with nothing," says an emotional and angry Shivaji.

Dharavi, one of the most high-density localities in the world, is also a hub of small- scale industries. As per the records of Dharavi Businessmen Welfare Association, there are 1,000 small units in the area – be it plastic recycling, leather, garments, aluminium factories and bakeries.

The leaked report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data has recorded a spike in unemployment in 2017-18. The Union government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has denied the findings of NSSO data. But the reality on ground is entirely different than what the Narendra Modi claims.

The story of the Ingale family is related to beef ban. The current political dispensation at the Centre and Maharashtra banks on the 'cultural politics' of 'beef' and 'meat' to its vote bank. So, one can assume that the Modi Sarkar will ignore the disaster that has hit this industry. But the story of sweet products is no different.

Demonetisation Hit Bakery Units

Parvez Sheikh (37) owns Mumbai's famous bakery, Nagina, located in Dharavi. He had other two bakeries Ibrahima (Kutti Vadi, Dharavi) and Rose (Mahim). Before demonetisation, Nagina had 40 labourers working two shifts, Ibrahima and Rose had 20 each. Sheikh’s main business entailed selling products like paav, bread and rusk in bulk. "Notebandi was such a big shock that money from street vendors stopped completely. Gradually, the business went down. I had to shut down my two bakeries and now Nagina has been given on rent to another person," he says. Asked what happened to the workers, he adds: "I has no choice than to bid them goodbye. Many of them were from Bijnore and Barabanki in Uttar Pradesh and have returned to their native places."

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Newsclick.in, 7 February, 2019, https://www.newsclick.in/dharavi-small-units-brink-disaster?fbclid=IwAR0SI4fvxwFgplNHKkbskjBvOe0Ly-kP6Gf7p-9-0WQeAaUbFKTICAP0y1c

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