Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday inaugurated Delhi’s first-of-its-kind arboretum and a city heritage park developed by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture (AKTC) in a 90-acre area near the Humayun’s Tomb.
He also announced that plans were afoot to extend it further to a 900-acre green public space.
“This is an important day for the historic city of Delhi. Today, it’s in 90 acres. But we are discussing among ourselves in the government and plans are afoot to extend it further to Purana Qila and make it a 900-acre huge green public space,” he said.
Aga Khan, who is on an an 11-day visit to India, was present on the occasion.
“I hope we will cooperate further and the vision of having a huge 900-acre green park in Delhi will become a reality with the cooperation of all of you. Sunder Nursery will become the national park in Delhi one day,” Naidu said.
Addressing the gathering, Aga Khan dedicated the arboretum and the city heritage park, developed at the 20th century Sunder Nursery in Nizamuddin area, to the people of India “with spirit of universal harmony”.
Besides transforming the British era Sunder Nursery into a magnificent heritage park and arboretum, the AKTC has also restored 15 monuments that date back to the 16th century. Six of them carry the Unesco world heritage site tag.
He said that AKTC has achieved “notable success” in creating and revitalising such beautiful green spaces in other countries including Cairo, Mali and Zanzibar.
“All these projects were designed to honour the past while also serving the future. And it is with the future in mind that we now dedicate Sunder Nursery as one of the world’s greatest public parks open to all for recreation, contemplation, education and inspiration,” he said.
Aga Khan said the Sunder Nursery will now have “a lively future” with schoolchildren visiting the site to experience a variety of new micro habitats, scientist advancing their ecological research, artists meeting audiences in the beautiful garden amphitheatre, historians and other visitors engaging with thousands of preserved historical monuments.
Addressing the gathering, Naidu said the transformation of Sunder Nursery and restoration of Humayun’s Tomb and other monuments by AKTC was an example of the success of projects under public-private partnership.
He said the Centre has identified 12 heritage cities (including Badami in Karnataka), inviting the AKTC to join hands with the government in developing them.