Thursday, 20 September, 2018

How private entity given mandate to maintain Red Fort, ask oppn parties

PM Modi at the Red Fort Is govt leasing out Parliament, Supreme Court to private parties, asks Congress
Ray Hunter | 30 April, 2018, 11:47

With opposition parties denouncing the government for "handing over the Red Fort to a private entity", the Ministry of Tourism clarified on Saturday that the agreement signed with the Dalmia Bharat Limited was "only for development, operations and maintenance of tourism amenities" in and around the 17th century monument and envisaged limited "access" to non-core areas. The government, however, insisted that it was not for profits.

Talking about the signing of MoU, Puneet Dalmia, Managing Director, Dalmia Bharat Group said, "We are very honoured to have adopted one of the India's top heritage sites". "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. "We know you have no commitment, but we still want to ask you", said Khera, wondering where is the dearth of funds in the Archaeological Society of India when central auditor CAG's reports are questioning why are they lapsing. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called it a "sad and dark day" in the country's history. "Why can't the government take care of our historic Lal Qila?"

The Red Fort adoption comes under the Ministry of Tourism's "Adopt a Heritage" scheme at started in the year 2017. In its second task, Dalmia Bharat will have to exhibit art installations during the Independence Day event every year. Why should it be leased out? Any revenue generated through the activities planned by the corporate house would also have to be ploughed back into the Fort's development and maintenance. The monuments will have ramps and toilet facilities and other amenities such as wheelchairs, battery-operated vehicles, braille signages are some of the key additions, which will make the Red Fort a barrier-free monument. The Congress party wrote in a tweet: "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?" "We will develop the monument on similar lines and it will be among the world's best", said Mahendra Singhi, the group CEO of Dalmia Bharat Cement.

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As of March this year, 31 prospective "Monument Mitras" (friends of heritage sites) have been shortlisted by a oversight and vision committee for developing tourist-friendly amenities at 95 monuments, heritage and other tourist sites including the Red Fort, Qutub Minar (in Delhi), Hampi (Karnataka), Sun Temple (Odisha), Ajanta Caves (Maharashtra), Char Minar (Telangana) and Kaziranga National Park (Assam).

"Prime Minister Narendra Modi is preparing to mortgage India's symbol of Independence, the Red Fort to corporates". Mahesh Sharma asserted that there is no shortage of funds to maintain monuments, but it is part of the scheme to involve people in their promotions instead of all responsibilities falling on the government. Meanwhile, GMR Sports and ITC are the finalists in the race to adopt the Taj Mahal.

It would be responsible for providing basic services like drinking water kiosks, street-furniture like benches and shop signage, putting up tactile maps, upgrading sanitation services, lighting up Red Fort pathways, doing restoration work and much more.

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