In double joy for India, a project on holistic urban revitalisation of the historic Nizamuddin Basti community in Delhi, has brought laurels for the country in two categories in this year's UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation.
The project has won the prestigious Award of Excellence, and another award in the Special Recognition for Sustainable Development category, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) said.
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Nine projects from six countries Bangladesh, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, and Thailand have been honoured by a jury of heritage experts. Jurors met online in November to review a total of 39 entries from 12 countries across the Asia-Pacific, UNESCO Bangkok said in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Jingdezhen Pengjia Alley Compound in Jiangxi, China and Kesennuma Historic Citiscape in Miyagi, Japan, have won Award of Distinction; while Award of Merit went to Doleshwar Hanafia Jame Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh; Thai Pak Koong (Ng Suk) Temple in Penang, Malaysia; and Baan Khun Phithak Raya in Pattani, Thailand.
"The jury applauded the Nizamuddin Basti project for its outstanding achievement in placing heritage at the heart of the sustainable development agenda and noted that through an innovative People-Public-Private Partnership model, the project overcame major socio-economic challenges and improved health, education and well-being, particularly for women and youth," the statement said.
The project in south Delhi began in 2007 and a multiple initiatives have been taken under it which have improved the quality of life, livelihood of the people in the centuries-old neighbourhood, said a senior official of Aga Khan Trust for Culture, which executed it in partnership with local civic body, Archaeological Survey of India and a few other agencies.
The UNESCO awards jury further commented, It is notable that the development initiatives preceded the conservation efforts, which encompassed the meticulous restoration of over 20 historic monuments clustered around the 14th-century mausoleum of the revered Sufi saint, Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya".
"From conserving monuments to reviving local crafts, to improving the urban environment and creating new jobs, the project has brought about the revitalisation of the living historic urban landscape in its truest sense," it said.
"We at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) are overwhelmend to receive two of the highest awards from UNESCO this year. This ratification, for over decades of work, will hopefully expedite our projects, being replicated across India. In Nizamuddin, its been a privilege to work alongside the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, residents and the ASI," CEO, AKTC, Ratish Nanda told PTI.
Delhi's iconic Sunder Nursery, a 90-acre garden which was transformed into a horticultural paradise after a decade-long conservation work, was among the winners in the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation in 2020.
The park, located near UNESCO heritage site of Humayun's Tomb, had won the Award of Excellence.
After a decade-long conservation work by AKTC and its partnering agencies, the Sunder Nursery, located in Nizamuddin area, was transformed into a new horticultural delight, and was opened to the public in February 2018.
Since 2000, the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation programme has been recognizing the efforts of private individuals and organizations in restoring, conserving, and transforming structures and buildings of distinct heritage value in the region
In 2020, UNESCO introduced the Special Recognition for Sustainable Development and an updated set of Awards criteria to highlight the contribution of cultural heritage to sustainable development within the broader framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the statement said.