Local Interests and Global Dreams: The Politics of Heritage-Led Urban Revitalization in Nizamuddin Basti

The Nizamuddin area development project is the first Private-Public Partnership (PPP) in heritage led urban revitalization in Delhi, involving many different central and local government organizations as public partners, and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Aga Khan Foundation India as private partners. A memorandum of understanding set the blue print for this project. It also triggered a public debate on the approach to developing one of the most complex living environments for the urban poor in the city, Nizamuddin Basti. This historic Basti or “slum” is included in a notional buffer zone of a World Heritage Site, Humayun’s Tomb, which is the center piece of an attempt to showcase Delhi as a world class city for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

This presentation will critique the approach adopted by this PPP project towards slum development by upholding the community perspective, which includes residents’ fear of eviction and possible relocation, while weaving in narratives of the author’s own involvement with the project as an observer of events, participant in a discourse on the methodology of the project, and scholar/reviewer of Delhi’s resettlement initiatives of inner city “slums”.

Sudeshna Chatterjee is a partner in the research-based architecture and urban design practice of Kaimal Chatterjee & Associates in New Delhi, India, and a founding director of UDS Global, which is an international organization that provides comprehensive urban development services.