Shahjahanabad is today a neglected city. In fact, it is officially designated a ‘slum’ by the Municipality.
The problems of Shahjahanabad began with vengeful and planned destruction of the Mughal City by the colonial government following the 1857 revolt. The introduction of the railways soon thereafter, further altered its historic urban fabric. The location of the railway station right in the midst of the city destroyed the historic gardens which had existed there, and re-oriented its balanced morphological structure. It provided easy access to the hinterland and became the source of the innumerable problems which continue to afflict the city.
The decision to locate New Delhi as a separate urban entity in 1911 put in motion another genre of problems: the pattern of neglect that has characterised the administration of Shahjahanabad ever since.
The First Master Plan suggested a major thrust for urban renewal and development, and conceived it “as a comprehensive activity to counteract functional obsolescence of urban structures and of parts and elements of it”. But this did not take place.
The Second Master Plan recognised the need to formulate appropriate planning standards to be applied in areas like Shahjahanabad and recommended that it should be identified as a ‘Special Area’, where it would be possible to advocate different planning standards than those applied to the rest of the city. The little that was actually attempted in this regard were not consistent or significant enough to bring about a reversal of the spiral of environmental degradation that had taken hold of Shahjahanabad.
The Third Master Plan of Delhi (MPD 2001-2021) has identified this area as a “Conservation Zone”. To work on the conservations of Shahjahanabad, the DUAC established a Task Force to dovetail new initiatives with the efforts Government was already considering. Discussions on the appropriate strategy to adopt have lead to the establishment of a “Special Purpose Vehicle” (SPV) to undertake the urban renewal of Shahjahanabad.