Nestled on a hillock of the Aravalli Range, Anand Niketan and Shanti Niketan are among the most sought after addresses situated in the heart of south Delhi. The localities covered with lush greens are home to many diplomats, besides embassies of Polynesia and Micronesia, contributing to the composite culture here.
Before concretisation, the entire area spread over hundreds of acres was a village called Juhurpur and its land was owned by the farmers of Vasant village. According to the revenue records, despite the hilly terrain people grew vegetables on small portions of the land for themselves. It is also said that the village had many small natural springs.
The area was first acquired by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) in 1955 under the provisions of the Delhi Development Act. However, it was handed over to two societies to be developed as plotted colonies. Anand Niketan was developed by its cooperative society, whereas Shanti Niketan was developed as a housing colony by a registered body of central government employees.
The area housed many prominent industrialists and political stalwarts like Darbara Singh, but it turned into a hub of diplomats in the 90s. Darbara Singh became the chief minister of Punjab in 1980 and remained in office for three years before a long period under President’s Rule.
“Darbara Singh had a guest house here, which was later sold to a businessman. He interacted with the people around during his stay in the colony,” said Bansi Lal Sethi, a resident.
Residents said the localities have stayed true to their names. With its green cover, Shanti Niketan has always been a pocket of peace while Anand Niketan, with its well equipped club, has become a rare island of activity for members and locals.
The calm, besides its proximity to the airport, Chanakyapuri and Vasant Vihar, has made it all the more popular. In 2011, industrialist Sandeep Jajodia bought a 2,000 square yard bungalow in Shanti Niketan. “Shanti Niketan which was projected as a housing colony for central government employees now has 200 (out of 216) houses owned by industrialists and top businessmen,” said Prem Agarwal, resident
Anand Niketan has around 415 houses. Several embassies are housed here, including Embassy of Armenia, Lebanon Embassy, Embassy of Mexico, Embassy of Lithuania, Maldives High Commission and Embassy of the Republic of Latvia.
While the residents say they feel safe and comfortable, the area is facing sanitation problems because of lack of manpower with the civic agency. To solve this issue, the RWA has hired staff to ensure cleanliness. The roads are also damaged and no government agency has come forward to fix them, they claim.
They also say that the infrastructure at the DDA market is crumbling. The market was developed in 1974 and has several offices, pet shops, ATMs and a grocery store. While some complain that poor facilities at the market create problems other feel it is a blessing in disguise. “We don’t have many outlets in the market but at the same time we are happy because the colony is not crowded. For our daily needs, we go to the Shanti Niketan market,” said Dev Prakash, a resident.
At the same time, the colony has succeeded in preserving and upgrading the Anand Niketan Club, which was established in 1994 and is now 2,000-member strong. This club offers facilities of gym, bar, swimming, restaurant and also has rooms to accommodate guests. The club management has succeeded in constructing a sewage treatment plant (STP) and treated water is used to irrigate the 14 gardens of the colony. These 14 parks have been named after festivals such as Diwali Park, Holi Park and others. During festivals, residents meet at the respective park to celebrate them.
The colony is divided into blocks from A to G with a population of around 8,000 people. Inside these blocks there are some portions which still have the hillock and these areas have been fenced and beautified. Seating arrangements have also been made for the residents.
In 1960, when the land was allocated to people, they were charged Rs 35 per square yard, while the circle rates today are Rs 7.75 lakh per square metre.
The areas though doesn’t have any historical background like most places in Delhi, this will be referred to as a township of diplomats in the future,” said Prem Nath Nag, a resident. People in the colony have a problem that the attendants of the civic agency don’t act swiftly to collect and handle waste. The pavements on the inner road are also damaged.