As part of the on-going restoration and conservation work at the Nizamuddin dargah and the nearby baoli (stepwell), 18 families were shifted from the dargah’s surrounding area.
The 14th century baoli (step well), built by Hazarat Nizamuddin Auliya and "believed to have medicinal properties", had borne large-scale damage to its surrounding walls because of seepage from these houses.
The Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC), which has been working for the restoration and conservation in the heritage precincts for several years, are carrying out the conservation work in the area, with the help of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in partnership with Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and the MCD.
"The restoration and conservation work for the baoli would continue for another year," an AKTC official said.
During the conservation, five perennial underground fresh water streams that fed the baoli, and a passage linking the water point to the mosque, were also discovered. The AKTC is also funding the relocation of the families.
However, the families are not keen on relocation. "I don't want to go that far as my school is here. I will stay here with my dadi," said Shahnaz Khatoon, a Class VII student. Shahnaz's family was one of the 18 evacuated on Monday. Their houses were demolished by the MCD.
"All these families have been given rented accommodation at Sawda Ghewra near Nangloi by the MCD. A permanent accommodation will be provided later," said Shahnaz's uncle Mohammed Rizwan, a photocopy machine operator. His house, being a little away from the boundary, was not part of the demolition.
The MCD is undertaking this conservation project to improve streets and toilet blocks in the congested Hazrat Nizamuddin area, which is expected to draw a large number of visitors during the Commonwealth Games.
"The Nizamuddin basti area is a densely dense populated area and is visited by over a million national and international tourists and pilgrims every year. It is expected to draw large number of footfalls during the Games so there is a need to improve it," a senior MCD official said. The area houses the Hazrat Nizamuddin dargah, Mazar-e-Ghalib, Humayun's Tomb and other historical and archaeological sites.
As the time is short, the MCD decided to prepare estimates for various lanes separately for early execution of work.
The AKTC will carry out community consultation process as part of its non-profit partnership with the MCD for the project.