"If the government would give us water, we would pay that money to the government," said Suresh Pache, 41, a motorized rickshaw driver.
Instead, it has issued demolition notices throughout the slum, which sits illegally on government land. Pache, whose home was razed 10 times, jokes that the destruction is the only government service he can count on.
Yet the world of technology has embraced the slumdwellers with its cheap cell phones and cut-rate calling plans that charge a sliver of a penny a minute. Pache bought his first phone for 1,400 rupees ($31) four months ago. Since then, his wife, a ragpicker, found two other broken models as she scoured the garbage dump, and he paid to have them repaired.
He speaks with fluency about the different plans offered by Tata, Reliance and Idea that cost him a total of 300 rupees ($6.70) a month. Now, when his rickshaw breaks down, he can alert his wife with a call. She uses her phone to tell the recyclers where she is in the dump so they can drive out to her, saving her the time and effort of dragging her bag of scraps to them.
Image: This Oct. 27, 2010 photo shows the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.