However deplorable this place must have been, particularly during the communal riots of 1993, Dharavi today is relatively well developed (for a slum). Yes, living spaces are incredibly cramped, working conditions tend to be pretty deplorable, and there is virtually no waste management. But people do not seem destitute--almost everyone seemed employed. Industries range from plastic recycling to pottery to pastries.
The Recycling is quite impressive. In many ways, the combination of Bombay's poverty and trash-filled streets seems to lead to an efficient system of re-use and recycling. Ragpickers sell bags of plastic to recyclers, which grind it up, wash it, dry it, and melt it down again for plastic manufacturers. I took a panorama from the roof of a recycling 'factory,' take a peek in hi-res.