Aya Nagar is situated on the Southwestern edge of Delhi. It is the last village of Delhi on the Mehrauli Gurgaon Road which connects South Delhi with the rapidly urbanizing city of Gurgaon in the adjoining state of Haryana. Although Aya Nagar is part of the rural fringe of Delhi, it is today a settlement of nearly 1, 00,000 people, half of which are the original rural inhabitants while the other half are low-income migrants from all parts of India.


Fig 1. Google Earth Image showing location of Aya Nagar and its surroundings

The new migrants have settled on the once agricultural lands of the village in an ill- planned manner and without legal sanction. This pattern of “unauthorized” urban expansion has become, in the last few decades, an overriding phenomenon of urban development in the country, in spite of master plans for urban development being prepared by the authorities for practically all the cities. The internal dynamics of this pattern, both physical and social, have not been adequately understood or addressed.

The rapid urban growth of Delhi has radically altered the habitational morphology of its surrounding areas. Aya Nagar is a typical example of such morphological change since it is situated on one of the major growth axes of the National Capital Territory of Delhi.

The inhabitants of Aya Nagar are primarily from the marginalized sections of society, the original villagers being members of the indigenous Gujjar community, while the recent migrants are largely dispossessed landless labour and low-income settlers from economically backward regions of the country. This heterogeneous mix is a good representation of the ‘common (wo) man’ of India, and the changing morphology of this settlement presents a vivid picture of the implications of rapid economic growth in our times.


In 1999, the Chief Minister of Delhi declared Aya Nagar to be a model village where effective planning methods are required with the combined effort of government agencies and the local residents. To achieve this goal, the Aya Nagar Vikas Samiti was registered in 2001 to be the voice of local people and a task force which will implement the plans proposed for development by the government.

In 2008, the Government of Delhi under a scheme of the Delhi Kalyan Samiti granted research aid to GREHA, an NGO primarily consisting of environmental design and planning experts based in Aya Nagar, to propose options and possibilities that can be initiated to make Aya Nagar a real model.

GREHA along with the Aya Nagar Vikas Samiti has put together a list of priority areas required for development and this vision document is the Aya Nagar Development Project.

The Aya Nagar Development Project proposes that the inhabitants alongwith technical experts create, document, and partner with local authorities for implementing a proto-typical model for urban development, to serve as a guide for similar settlements in the whole country.


The priority areas for development initiatives in Aya Nagar are;

  • Public health – Proper functioning drainage and water supply systems.
  • Safety in Mobility – better roads, decongestion of traffic and increased bus service with a proper terminal.
  • Community facilities like a Baraat Ghar / community centre.
  • Government health care facilities like clinics / hospitals and veterinary services.
  • College/s, especially for women, improvements in the condition of existing schools, and better sports facilities for the youth.
  • Places for public functions and community celebrations……..

The following document is an action plan for achieving the goals set out in the development project. A preliminary technical study has been conducted for execution for the most important activities for development in Aya Nagar, public health and safety in mobility.



One of the key aspects of maintaining good public health is the design and use of an effective drainage system. A large number of killer diseases are known to be waterborne and a badly functioning drainage system can accelerate the effects of the same in a community. Aya Nagar is a case in study whereby a decentralized, self sustaining, in situ drainage system is proposed which will ensure that a clean and hygienic environment can be maintained to a large extent by the residents themselves.


The population in Aya Nagar has more than doubled in the last decade. The systems established for a small village settlement have been unable to cope with the increasing pressures of population growth. This has resulted in a complete failure of the working systems in the area.

The present situation in Aya Nagar is a clear example of the lack of a proper drainage system. Open drains along plot edges serve as the main spines for the street which carry grey and black water. Inappropriate slopes of drains, and blockages caused due to disposal of solid waste chokes these drains, and the accumulation of sewage water becomes a potential breeding hub for disease causing germs and mosquitoes. The situation is aggravated during the monsoon season as most of the unbuilt surface is solid paved allowing little or no penetration of rain water to the ground. Further, the surface run-off usually mixes with the sewage water in open drains and overflows, making the streets completely unhygienic.


Existing Situation

  • Narrow open drains
  • Lack of ground water recharge due to hard paved surfaces
  • Blockages caused due to solid waste disposed in the drains.
  • Lack of proper system of rain water drainage.
Fig. 2 Typical Street Section


A full drainage scheme is part of the comprehensive project, which envisages a decentralized system of neighborhood treatment plants managed largely by the residents.


Fig. 3 Plan of Aya Nagar Highlighting Lal Dora Extension Area

The present proposal includes a demonstration of this idea in one neighborhood near the ‘Johar’ called the Aya Nagar Lal Dora Extension Area (Ref. Fig 3).

This is a neighborhood of a few hundred households who have expressed interest in being a partner in the demonstration exercise. This neighborhood will become the site for evolving appropriate sanitation and public health techniques which can be sustained by local initiative.

The strategic position of the neighbourhood favours a gravity based drainage system, which shall not only ensure a self functioning drainage system but also will be extremely cost effective.

A detailed techincal scheme has been drawn for one street (referred to as Implementation Street in documents & drawings) in this neighbourhood.

The implementation street is a typical example of the drainage situation in Aya Nagar. The current situation of drainage is best explained through the following pictures. (Ref. Fig. 4, 5 & 6)


Fig 4. View of the Implementation Street, left and Fig 5 & 6. Present Drainage System, right

In March 2008, GREHA had requested the government of Delhi for a detailed topographical survey of Aya Nagar and its environs. In 2008, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC), Government of Delhi commissioned and completed the survey.

The proposal detailed in section 3.2 and 3.3 is based on the topographical survey received from I&FC alongwith data gathered by GREHA at the local (site) level.



The waste and grey water from each built plot undergoes a two - level treatment process before it reaches the Johar (water harvesting / oxidation pond).

  • The water from each plot is first treated in a local digestor (STP) which will dramatically reduce the harmful nitrates and bacteria through the use of organic bio sanitizers.
  • The overflow from the digestor (STP) shall enter a grey water pipe which shall run along the street edge sloped towards the Johar.
  • The 2nd level treatment of water will be done by root zone treatment through a designed reed bed, before it enters the Johar.

The overall system can be described in the following diagram;



3.2.b.i Assumptions and Calculations

The following assumptions and limitations are being considered for quantification / design.

Current Population in the Street 1 (implementation street)

250 persons

Projected growth in population in the selected street

100 persons

Total population in Street 1 (implementation street) to be considered

350 persons


Total waste water generated (Grey + Sewage water)

150 Litres /day /person

Total quantity of waste water = 350 x 150

52,500 Litres


Total Number of Digestors (STP) proposed in the street

@ 10,000 mts c/c


Proposed load per Digestor (STP) = 52,500 / 5

10,500 lts. per day

Total number of users per digester (STP) = 10,500 / 150

70 persons


Total treated water available for irrigation etc from 5 Digestors (STP)

52,500 ltrs per day

Limitations of Site:-

Width of implementation street varies between 3.0 – 5.0 mts, therefore the width of the digestor (STP) should ideally be restrained within 1.5 - 2.0 mts.

3.2.b.ii Features of the Proposed Digester (STP)

Broadly, the following features are required in the design of the proposed digester (STP).

  • Leak proof and non porous to avoid any contamination.
  • Lightweight and easy to install as a prefabricated module.
  • Should withstand vehicular traffic load.
  • Durable and cost effective.


Based on the requirements of the scheme, prefabricated Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP) digesters are proposed for the drainage scheme (Ref. Fig. 7 & 8).


Fig. 7 Plan of Proposed GRP Digester (STP)


Fig. 8 Typical Section of Proposed Digester (STP)
PROCESS DESCRIPTION FOR (DIGESTER) STP: (Extracted from report submitted by Organic Solutions to GREHA on 9th Jan. 2009)
  1. The effluent from the entire contributing Houses etc. shall be brought by pipe to the digester (STP) through the screen chamber. All the Floating materials are to be removed manually from this chamber and wastewater shall flow to the anaerobic reactor.
  2. In the digester (STP), Microorganism OS1 will be dosed on daily basis for rapid fermentation process and decomposition of Biodegradable organic matter. Microorganisms will assimilate BOD load.
  3. After digester (STP) this treated wastewater will be flow to the Reed Bed. Further this water flows by the gravity to the Johar (Oxidation pond).
  4. This treated water will be stored in the Johar (Oxidation tank) from where it is pumped for irrigation.
  5. Treated water after filtration will be clear, unobjectionable, low BOD (< 50 mg/lit), low suspend solids, and floating matter not noticeable can be used for non-potable applications like irrigation.
  6. Excess sludge from the digester (STP) will be taken out periodically and can be used as compost.


The only drainage provision at present is open channels on sides of roads. These carry waste as well as sewage and rain water. Often the open channels are blocked by solid waste and garbage.

The proposed system for drainage separates sewerage and waste water from rain-water, which is flowing on the surface of open areas, roofs, and finally on roads.

With sewerage and waste water being provided at sub-surface level, the road surface will carry only rain-water.

It is proposed that roads are surfaced with concrete pavers laid to slopes for carrying surface water (Ref. Fig. 9) to harvesting locations like the Johars. The pavers are designed to be laid dry on compacted earth so that water percolation is possible, and the size and shape allows stacking and ease of laying (Ref. Fig. 10 & 11).


Fig. 9 Proposed road section



Fig. 10 Details of pre – cast concrete Fig. 11 Proposed laying pattern of the pre cast concrete blocks

There is a growing trade in building construction materials of late in Aya Nagar, which is causing environmental pollution. It should be possible to divert local initiative and resources towards manufacture of pre-cast concrete blocks for road surfacing.




Aya Nagar is one of the few villages in Delhi which has managed to retain the original village Johar (rain water harvesting pond). However, the Johar which once was the symbolic centre of the village is now left neglected and used as a garbage dump (Ref. Fig. 12).


Fig. 12 Present Situation of the Johar

In 2001-02 due to the advocacy by the Aya Nagar Vikas Samiti, boundary fencing was installed around the Johar. However no concrete steps have been taken to restore the vitality and character of the water body.

At present the area around the Johar is being used for a range of activities. Proper planning and sensitive design can transform the Johar into an active public space which can be called ‘Eco-Park’, as suggested by honourable Chief Minister of Delhi.


The present proposal seeks to transform the ‘Johar’ into an ‘eco park’ which can be a vital, functioning central place of the settlement. There are key areas which need to be considered for a complete redevelopment to be achieved.

    • Intercepting the sewage flowing into the Johar, and revitalization of the Johar as a rain water harvesting pond.
    • Part of the area to be used for composting the solid waste collected in the surrounding areas.
    • Space to be developed for community recreation activity.
    • Edges along the market to be developed for a ‘haat’.
    • Facility for public meetings / performances which can be integrated with the neighbouring Sarvodhyaya School (in future).

The area around the Johar offers space for all the above mentioned facilities. The attached master plan clearly marks the zones for all activities (Ref. Drg. No. AN_JS_03).

Rehabilitation of the ‘Johar’ will be directly dependant on intercepting and treating the sewerage presently flowing in the open storm water drains and into the ‘Johar’ at several places. Therefore a properly designed drainage system is crucial in the revitalization of the Johar as detailed in Section 3.0.



Over the last decade the increasing prosperity and population of the people in Aya Nagar has led to a geometric increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. There are only 2 main entry points to Aya Nagar. Bulk of the traffic comes in from the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road and enters Aya Nagar from the Pahalwaan Chowk (Ref. Drg. No. AN_JS_01). The width of the 2 way road from this point onwards varies from 4 -10 mts, creating bottlenecks leading to traffic jams all through the day and especially during rush hours. Increase in the frequency of large vehicles like trucks and tractors on these narrow roads, along with ever increasing traffic and lack of any pedestrian routes makes the residents extremely vulnerable to accidents. The present situation also poses a major threat in the flow of essential services such as a fire tender or ambulance as the only road which serves the colony is usually blocked by heavy traffic. (Fig. 13 & 14)


Fig. 13 & 14 Present situation of Traffic at Pahalwaan Chowk (entrance chowk of Aya Nagar)


The road widening scheme proposed for the same can be divided into 2 parts;

Construction of new road along the eastern embankment of the Johar.

Widening of existing road from Pahalwaan Chowk till the colony market road. For smooth flow of traffic, it is proposed that these two roads are one way traffic systems which will allow for better motor-ability, the widths can be designed to carry both vehicular and pedestrian traffic, so that clarity of movement and safety is ensured.

The details of the proposed road widening scheme are attached as drawings. (Ref. Drg. No. AN_JS_02 and AN_JS_03)







Master Plan



Settlement Drainage Plan



Neighbourhood Drainage



Proposed System for One Street



Engineering Concept



Johar Scheme – Existing road network



Johar Scheme – Road Widening Scheme



Johar Scheme – Area Chart



Unregulated urban expansion of Aya Nagar has increased in its pace and intensity in the last few years. The original inhabitants of Aya Nagar changed their major occupation of agriculture and animal husbandry in the last 2-3 decades. The agricultural lands got converted into residential plots, sold and leased to migrants and new settlers.

This process eventually led to the formation of the unauthorized colony as an extension of the village.

In the last decade the privately owned agricultural lands being sold to new settlers, have been exhausted. Further sales are leading to encroachment of village common lands, Gram Sabha lands and the ridge area.

This has led to significant criminalisation of the local society, and domination of the majority population by those few who are able to manipulate public institutions for personal benefit.

Consequently infrastructure resources are misused, and as a result a large amount of environmental stress is generated in the settlement.

A brief overview of the points of environmental stress is given in the distress map (1) and photographic documentation (2).