Nizamuddin revival project wins two Unesco awards

Delhi: 3 Dec, 2021 (Times of India)


New Delhi: There was double joy for Nizamuddin basti and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture on Thursday. The urban renewal initiative and conservation there, on since 2009, picked up twin awards from Unesco: Award of excellence 2021 and special recognition for sustainable development.
“In Nizamuddin, we tried to undertake a model project that couples conservation of significant national monuments with multiple urban and socio-economic development initiatives to improve quality of life and visitor experience. We are delighted that Unesco has ratified this approach for conservation in the Indian context,” beamed Ratish Nanda, CEO, Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC).

Nizamuddin basti, where the urban renewal is underway, comprises 20 monuments and heritage structures. While conserving Chausat Khamba, Ataga Khan’s tomb, Jamaat Khana Mosque, Nizamuddin Baoli and Tilangani's tomb, the project also focused on improving the education, health, sanitation, water availability and employment prospects for the area’s communities.

 “Generations of my family have lived in the basti,” said Mohammad Hamad. “When we first learnt of the conservation project starting here in 2007, we were scared that our houses would be demolished and we would be displaced. But our fears proved wrong. Volunteers from Aga Khan Trust went from door to door coaxing basti women to get training in cookery, stitching and in other income-bringing initiatives. They encouraged them to move out of isolation in homes. Today, Zaika-e-Nizamuddin and Insha-e-Noor, eateries run by the basti women, have been featured in Park Hyatt hotel in Hyderabad and Marriott Hotel in Mumbai.”

Just past Phoool Wali Gali at a heritage building called Mashaikh Manzil, women’s self-help groups began cooking some locality favourites for sale, beginning with a high-nutrition laddoo sold for Rs 5. Today, the initiative has transformed into a fully functional kitchen that makes delicacies like kebabs, nihari and biryani.