Chausar Khamba
Chausar Khamba - ©Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award

Aga Khan Trust for Culture, Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative

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Main actors

City Government, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, other

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Project area

Neighborhood or district

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Ongoing since 2007/01

The Urban renewal project taken up by the Aga Khan Foundation revitalizes and unifies various segregated heritage sites around Humayun's tomb and Sunder nursery.

The dense and neglected neighborhood of Nizamuddin Basti has been revitalized through proper street-scaping and management of the various streets and open spaces inside the Basti. The project led to the establishment of various basic community facilities like toilets, schools and Healthcare centers. Various parks have also been landscaped to the needs of the residents of the Basti.

Sustainable Development Goals

Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award

This project was shortlisted for the 'Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award' in 2014.

Delhi, India

Size and population development
2011: 22,654,000; 1990: 9,726,000; 2025: 32,935,000; 2010-2015: 3.11%/year

Main functions
political, cultural and economic center

Main industries / business
IT, finance, media, tourism

Political structure
the Delhi Municipal Corporation is responsible for the provision of municipal services. The assembly elects a member to become major for one year. The municipal Council is the the legislative chamber of the Municipal Corporation.

Administrative structure
11 districts, 27 tehsils, 59 census towns, 300 villages, and 3 statutory towns

The areas of Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti, Sunder Nursery and the World Heritage Site of Humayun's Tomb are part of the Nizamuddin heritage site. This site is located in a densely populated historic district of Delhi. The aim of this project is to integrate the three zones into a unified area of cultural significance. Beyond that, the project intends to bring up socio-economic improvements for the local population as well as urban development and environmental protection concerns.

The initiative was launched on 11 July 2007 when a Public-Private Partnership Memorandum of Understanding was signed. The signatory partners of this Memorandum included the Archaeological Survey of India, the Central Public Works Department, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Aga Khan Foundation and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture The project followed the successful restoration of the Humayun’s Tomb gardens in 2004, located in the same area.

The primary objective, as stated in the Memorandum of Unterstanding, is to organize the conservation of important buildings located in the area of Nizamuddin Basti and the rehabilitation of open spaces in the Basti. The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative is organized as a joint action of several government agencies: the ASI, CPWD and the South Delhi Municipal Corporation. 

Since its beginnings, the project also included aspects of community development  and capacity building activities. For that purpose, a Geographic Information System (GIS) was created to gather socio-economic data and information, in order to be able to make decisions that improve the quality of life for the people living in Nizamuddin Basti.

  • Education

The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative includes education measures for children and adults. The vocational education program for instance provides information on how to obtain government entitlement documents and skill training. 

  • Environment protection

Environmental awareness is being raised by events such as the “World Water Day” or “Eco Club”, where 132 leaking taps were repaired and discussions and presentations about the impact of climate change were hold.

  • Waste management

Waste management embraceinitiatives such as waste segregation, recycling kiosk, promote door to door waste collection. These measures pursue efforts made by the government to improve waste management services and create public awareness about proper waste disposal.

  • Cultural revival

Many events are organized for the promotion oflocal music, heritage and craft traditions.

  • Health

The project made theupgrade of the MCD Polyclinic possible as well as the installation of a Pathology Laboratory. Both help facilitating community access to health care with improved diagnosis and treatment.

  • Urban development

Physicalmapping of the Basti in 2009 led to the development of community-driven street improvement plans implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. 

Resources for the project include private and public funding sources. Co-funding for project components has been received from the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Ford Foundation, World Monuments Fund, US Embassy, the German Embassy, HUDCO, amongst others (source: Humayun's Tomb - Nizamuddin Basti Urban Renewal Initiative).

The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative has led, inter alia, to the following outcomes in the Nizamuddin heritage site:

  • conservation of 30 monuments
  • landscaping of almost 150 acres
  • employment of 2,000 craftsmen
  • plantation of 20,000 trees
  • 300,000 patients treated at the polyclinic
  • community toilet complexes built and managed by resident groups
  • creation of 2,750 jobs
  • organization of an intensive English course (over two years) for 400 children from the Basti
  • an increase of 1000% in visitor numbers


Ensuring the financial sustainability of project components, without depending on government subsidies, is identified as one of the main challenges facing this project.

The Nizamuddin Urban Renewal Initiative could take advantage from the lessons learned from the Humayun’s Tomb gardens restoration some years earlier.

The success factors identified throughout the implementation of this project include:

  • linking heritage conservation with the living craft traditions.
  • coupling urban conservation with socio-economic development measures, in accordance with the Historic Urban Landscape approach.
  • a partnership of civil society organizations with government agencies.
  • the importance of a multi-disciplinary team to address the variety of issues that come up in an urban environment.

- Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award 2014 Delhi, p.32 (accessed 17 February 2016) (accessed 17 February 2016)

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Want to know more about this project?
Contact our community manager.

Camille Toggenburger
Berlin, Germany

Camille Toggenburger

Individual | Community and Content Manager | urban sustainability exchange

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