Government clarifies on Red Fort Mou with Dalmia

Dalmia Group adopts Shah Jahan's Red Fort for 5 years; Opposition seeks clarification on profit-taking activity

The ministry signed an MoU with Dalmia Bharat and the Archaeological Survey of India under the project to adopt the iconic Red Fort monument in New Delhi and Gandikota Fort in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, it said in a statement. The government, however, insisted that it was not for profits. "The MoU clearly states that in case of any violation of the laid down tenets, the MoU will stand revoked and that the ASI can take relevant action against the concerned party", Verma said. He said that he can wipe out India's rich legacy. "Sad and dark day in our history". She said, "Why can't the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila?"

Shah Jahan's Red Fort isn't the only one on the list. Why should it be leased out?

He reiterated that there was no shortage of funds to maintain these monuments.

The Union ministry of tourism's "adopt a monument" scheme has seen at least half a dozen centrally-protected monuments in the capital find a corporate sponsor. "You may have the MacDonalds Stadium but you certainly don't have the MacDonalds Lincoln Memorial". Speaking to TOI, tourism minister KJ Alphons said, "The adoption scheme is aimed at involving communities in the upkeep of heritage monuments".

By signing the contract, the Dalmia Bharat Limited became a part of "Monument Mitras', a group of various private sector companies assigned to look after the operations and the maintenance of this heritage site for the next five years".

As per the MoU, Dalmia Bharat will have to construct, landscape, illuminate and maintain activities related to provision and development of tourist amenities.

"Just look at some of the castles in Europe which are a fraction of the Red Fort's size but are so meticulously maintained".

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"We have to start work within 30 days and have to own it for five years initially". The government, however, clarified that the "Adopt a Heritage" scheme was nothing more than an effort to improve tourist amenities at heritage monuments to increase footfalls.

It will also have to provide certain basic amenities within six months as per the contract.

The tourism ministry has said that 31 firms, including Dalmia Bharat, have so far been approved to adopt 95 monuments and tourist sites with their corporate social responsibility funds. The group would be able to use the "Dalmia" brand name on souvenirs, banners during cultural events and all signage that it would install across Red Fort's precincts.

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are now bartering away the symbol of freedom movement such as Red Fort to his corporate friends for maintenance", Randeep Singh Surjewala, chief spokesperson of the Congress party, said on Saturday.

Responding to the remarks, Alphons said under the scheme started a year ago, the Ministry is looking at public participation to develop heritage monuments. In this, Dalmia was successful in getting the group and GMR contract and ITC.

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. After this, the group will again take the Red Fort in their hands.

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