Dalmia adopts Red Fort; what next on Modi's lease-out list, asks Congress

Photo: Wikipedia Commons
Business Standard reported on Friday that the 77-year-old Dalmia Bharat group had become the first corporate house in India to adopt a historical monument under a contract worth Rs 250 million (Rs 25 crore) for a period of five years. The Dalmia Bharat group beat IndiGo Airlines and GMR group to bag the contract under Modi government's ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Dalmia Bharat Limited, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Culture and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on April 9, even though the Ministry of Tourism went public with the deal on April 25, 2018.

The Congress on Saturday took potshots at the BJP for the move. The party ran a poll on Twitter, asking which monuments the saffron party would “lease out to a private entity” next. The Red Fort was built in the 17th century by the fifth Mughal ruler Shah Jahan as he moved his administrative capital from Agra to the present-day Delhi.

Under the ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme launched by the Indian government in September 2017, almost 100 monuments and heritage sites across India have been put up for adoption. These include the Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, Kangra Fort in Himachal Pradesh, Buddhist Kaneri caves in Mumbai. Sites not maintained by the ASI, such as Chitkool village in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Thembang in Arunachal Pradesh and the Sati Ghat at Haridwar, Uttarakhand have also been put up for adoption.

Not just the Congress party, several other prominent personalities across India, as well as Twitterati in general, reacted to this, and in most cases, the reaction was not very positive.

Here are some Twitter, Facebook reactions to the Modi government's 'Adopt a monument' scheme under which Dalmia Bharat Group has bagged Delhi's iconic Red Fort

Scottish historian, writer and a known expert on India's history, William Dalrymple, said: "There must be better ways of maintaining a nation's greatest monuments than by auctioning them off to a corporate house."

lrfan Habib, an Indian historian, welcomed the move but also warned ASI to keep a close watch on the development.

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

Is this happening for real???!!!

This is what it has come to ???? I don’t even want to start with who to blame for this!


— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) April 27, 2018

There must be better ways of maintaining a nation's greatest monuments than by auctioning them off to a corporate househttps://t.co/uO66Rr4Hu1

— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) April 27, 2018

This brings an interesting twist to your current story 'The Anarchy' about how a corporate power took over the sub-continent. Now they are taking over its heritage!

— White Mughals Fan (@WhiteMughalsFan) April 28, 2018

Red Fort to become Dalmia Bharat's Red Fort. Good that a corporate house came forward to restore a monument as huge as the Red Fort. However, history, particularly medieval, is being dragged into unsavoury controversies. ASI need to keep a close watch, if that works at all.

— S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) April 28, 2018

Amid all the chest-beating about patriotism, Modi's govt has auctioned the iconic Red Fort to the highest bidder. What a shame.https://t.co/ioiKkU6ctt

— Vidya (@VidyaKrishnan) April 27, 2018

The Red Fort is not the property of the State to do what it wills.

It was made by the labour, the blood, sweat, and tears of Indian workers. It belongs to the people. "Adopt a monument", what euphemism for corporate appropriation of our history.

— Anupam Guha (@Anupam_Guha) April 27, 2018

Heritage on sale!! Wondering where all tax goes. Not on health, education, women welfare, upkeep of monuments. https://t.co/cZkvPYH7QH

— Shabnam Hashmi (@ShabnamHashmi) April 28, 2018

Instead of privatising heritage monuments like #RedFort, privatise PSUs & PSBs. Besides, giving corporate branding rights to Dalmia Bharat for Rs 5 crore/year is crass. Instead appoint contractor to maintain monument, no branding, just annual fee @dr_maheshsharma @alphonstourism

— Minhaz Merchant (@MinhazMerchant) April 28, 2018

The tasks that have to be carried out by Dalmia Bharat group under the contract:

Dalmia group's 6-month target:

Provide drinking water kiosks
Street furniture-like benches
Shop signage

Dalmia group's 1-year target

Set up tactile maps
Upgrade toilets
Lighting along Red Fort pathways, bollards
Restoration work and landscaping
Building a 1,000-square-foot visitor facility centre, 
3-D projection mapping of the Red Fort’s interior and exterior
Battery-operated vehicles
Charging stations for such vehicles
A thematic cafeteria

Dalmia group's 2-year-target tasks 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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