Red Fort adoption for better maintenance, says KJ Alphons

Red Fort adoption for better maintenance, says KJ Alphons
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NEW DELHI: Tourism minister KJ Alphons said the adoption of monuments by companies, such as that of Red Fort by the Dalmia Bharat Group, is aimed at ensuring better maintenance and amenities for visitors. He denied that the Red Fort was being leased out or rebranded as alleged by the opposition. The ministry launched the scheme in September last year, inviting both public and private sector companies to become ‘monument mitras’.

“None of the heritage monuments are being rebranded as implied under the ‘adopt a heritage’ scheme,” he told ET. “They are also not being ‘handed over’ or ‘leased out’ to private companies. Companies are only expected to work for the upkeep of the monuments by creating some basic infrastructure like public toilets on the periphery under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes.”

Alphons also said the government is not paying or receiving any money from companies under the project. The Dalmia Bharat Group has reportedly adopted the Red Fort in a contract worth Rs 25 crore over five years.

“It sounds like we have given it to them on a contract worth Rs 25 crore,” he said. “We have not spent or received any money on this. The companies are spending money under CSR.”

He said former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had sought corporate partnerships for preservation of heritage.

“Humayun’s Tomb was handed over completely for restoration to a foreign agency like Aga Khan Foundation,” he said. “We are not allowing any of these ‘monument mitras’ to do any restoration inside the monument at all. They won’t touch the monument.”

The Dalmia group is not the first to adopt a site under the scheme.

The ministry said 31 public and private entities have been approved so far to adopt 95 monuments across India. Adopted Delhi monuments include Purana Qila (NBCC), Jantar Mantar (SBI Foundation), Qutub Minar (Yatra. com), and Safdarjung Tomb (Travel Corporation of India). Sources said ITC Hotels and GMR are among frontrunners for adopting the Taj Mahal.

The tourism ministry said the project is a non-revenue-generating one and no financial bids were involved. It envisages limited access to non-core areas and monuments won’t be handed over, it said in a press release on Saturday.

“Adopt a heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan” is a collaborative effort among the tourism ministry, culture ministry, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), states and union territories. It aims to involve companies 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.”

Monument mitras are picked through a ‘vision bidding’ process in which those with the best plan for the heritage sites are chosen.

The project primarily focuses on providing basic amenities that include cleanliness, toilets, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens, standardised signage, illumination and advanced amenities such as surveillance systems, night viewing facilities, tourism facilitation centres and an enhanced tourism experience.

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