A pair of forty year old geese guard the entrance to a tannery godown in Chamra Bazar, the muslim tannery quarter on Dharavi Main Road. This is one of the oldest industries in the slum, as the Bombay slaughter houses were originally sited here on the edge of the Creek, and the Johnson&Johnson works which manufactures surgical catgut is visible over its compound wall.

The boss isn't in, but we take a look around while waiting for him to arrive. The godown is a large wooden-roofed structure with tanning ponds, dyeing barrels and many other leather processing areas, but not much is going on. The boss eventually arrives on his motorbike in a heavy downpour and invites us into his office. "Take as many pictures as you like" he says at once, "but I don't want you quoting me". After a bit, however, he opens up.

"You see, the tannery business is dead. Not dying, dead. The Municipality has moved the slaughterhouses onto the mainland and we are not allowed to tan leather here in Bombay anymore, so our business is dead. Now we just rent out the space and machinery to small processing outfits who finish tanned skins from Madras, Jaipur, everywhere but Bombay." In one of the bizarre moves typical of Indian burocracy, tanning Bombay skins is banned - evidently the state import taxes on leather and skins are lucrative.

"Now, this business is banned south of the Creek. We have been allotted land in Chembur (in North Bombay) but that has already been occupied by squatters. What can we do! Everything is here, the workshops, the leather goods shops, the labour. Everything except for work."

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