Private Company Dalmia Group “Adopts” Red Fort
Under “Adopt a Heritage” scheme, the Dalmia Group has adopted the iconic 17th century monument, Red Fort. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Dalmia Group, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) which was signed on April 9, was made public on April 24.
As per the deal, the Dalmia group has adopted the Mughal-era monument for the next five years and has committed an amount of Rs 25 crore for the same.
As per the press release by the Ministry of Tourism, through the “Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchan” scheme, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and ASI and the state/UTs governments wants to promote “responsible tourism”.
Adopt a Heritage
Adopt a Heritage scheme is for development, maintenance & operation of Tourism amenities in monuments; Project envisages limited access to non-core areas and no handing over of monuments: @tourismgoi @alphonstourism @dr_maheshsharma @MinOfCultureGoI https://t.co/N444OBSkMn
— PIB Tourism (@PIBTour) April 28, 2018
The “Adopt a Heritage” scheme was launched in September 2017, which allows private and public sector corporations to bid and adopt 95 monuments across India. The Ministry had said that about 31 public and private entities have been approved for bidding so far. The monuments which are up for adoption include Purana Qila, Jantar Mantar, Qutub Minar and Safdarjung Tomb. It is being reported that ITC Hotels and GMR are one of the frontrunners for adopting the Taj Mahal.
The statement from the government on the scheme read, “It aims to involve public sector companies, private sector companies and corporate citizens/individuals to take up the responsibility for making our heritage and tourism more sustainable through development, operation and maintenance of world-class tourist infrastructure and amenities at ASI/ State heritage sites and other important tourist sites in India.”
The government said that companies winning the bid for adoption would be called “Monument Mitras” stating that “the agency with best vision for the heritage site will be given an opportunity to associate pride with their CSR activities.”
The Monument mitras would also get “limited visibility” in the premises and the Incredible India website.
As per government’s statement the Monument mitras would be instrumental in providing basic amenities including ensuring cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for the differently abled and senior citizens, illumination and enhanced tourism experience.
In its statement, the government clarified that this scheme is a non-revenue generating project.
Congress and other parties criticise the move
Congress has slammed the centre’s move of allowing private players to “adopt” a monument of national heritage and pride.
After handing over the Red Fort to the Dalmia group, which is the next distinguished location that the BJP government will lease out to a private entity? #IndiaSpeaks
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 28, 2018
CPI(M) leader, Brinda Karat called the move “extremely wrong”. She said, “This is extremely wrong, these are not just monuments but symbols of the freedom struggle.”
West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee too criticised the move and asked if government cannot take of the historic monument.
Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila ? Red Fort is a symbol of our nation. It is where India’s flag is hoisted on Independence Day. Why should it be leased out ? Sad and dark day in our history
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 28, 2018
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav too tweeted against the move by the Modi government
मोदी सरकार द्वारा इसे लाल क़िले का निजीकरण करना कहोगे, गिरवी रखना कहोगे या बेचना।
अब प्रधानमंत्री का स्वतंत्रता दिवस का भाषण भी निजी कंपनी के स्वामित्व या नियंत्रण वाले मंच से होगा। ठोंको ताली। जयकारा भारत माता का!https://t.co/W8MfRDhcyW
— Tejashwi Yadav (@yadavtejashwi) April 27, 2018
Even BJP ally Shiv Sena expressed their anguish over the decision. Shiv Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said, “it is sad on the part of government that it cannot maintain our national heritage.”
Reacting to the criticism, the Union minister of state for tourism, KJ Alphons, in an interview with the Hindustan Times said that the scheme would fulfill the dream of getting 100 million tourists in few years. He also accused the Congress of doing nothing to protect India’s heritage.