Opposition slams Centre: Why give heritage sites to pvt parties?

30 April, 2018, 11:47 | Author: Bert Pena
  • PM Modi at the Red Fort

The Congress today accused the government of "privatising" India's heritage after a corporate group, Dalmia Bharat, signed a contract with the Ministry of Tourism to adopt the iconic Mughal-era monument, Red Fort, for next five years at a cost of Rs 25 crore. The government, however, insisted that it was not for profits.

The Managing Director of Dalmia Bharat Group, Puneet Dalmia expressing his happiness towards the adoption of Red Fort and said, "We are very honoured to have adopted one of India's top heritage sites". He said that he can wipe out India's rich legacy. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a "sad and dark day" in the country's history.

"Why can " t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila?

The statement issued by Ministry of Tourism on Saturday said, "The MoU is "only" for the development, operations and maintenance of tourism amenities in and around the Red Fort".

Ever since the indpendence of India, important functions of national significance including the ceremonial Republic Day Parade on January 26 and Independence Day Speech by Prime Ministers are held inside the Red Fort. Why should it be leased out? All revenues generated from these "semi-commercial activities" would need to be deposited in a separate bank account that would be used only for developing and maintaining the monument.

Under the "adopt a monument" scheme, a total of 93 ASI ticketed monuments will be handed over to corporates who will use their CSR funds for the facelift, development, and upgradation of tourist amenities in these heritage monuments. "You may have the MacDonalds Stadium but you certainly don't have the MacDonalds Lincoln Memorial".

Reacting to the news, Dr Mahesh Sharma, MoS Culture told ANI: "President announced a scheme of GoI on World Tourism Day 2017, that those interested in value addition to any services of monuments can come forward".

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Most importantly, the 77-year old Dalmia Group made history by becoming the first conglomerate to adopt an Indian monument after beating Indigo Airlines and GMR Group in the race of bagging the most coveted contract.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said that the Red Fort was a symbol of independent India and handing over the monument to a corporate entity was "nothing short of blasphemous".

In fact Dalmia Group also plans to hold various cultural events like musical concerts at the Red Fort to encourage the tourism inflow in the monument which would do nothing but boost its image as an Indian heritage.

"I want to ask the Congress what they did for the past 70 years. There is no profitmaking in this scheme, nor does it allow partners, public or private, to touch the monuments".

The Dalmia Bharat group will charge people visiting the Red Fort after getting specific clearances from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism.

Tasks that need to be completed within two years include setting-up exhibitions in cells under the Asad Burj, virtual reality-based monument interpretation, building night trails and structural illumination of the entire Red Fort.

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