Centre's ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme sparks controversy

Controversy broke out over 'adoption' of the Red Fort by Dalmia Bharat Group. (PTI file photo)

The Centre’s ongoing move to outsource the operational maintenance and creation of basic amenities for tourists at country’s popular monuments and heritage sites has run into a massive controversy with several historians and political parties questioning the Narendra Modi government’s decision to handover the task to Corporates under  ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme.  

The controversy broke out over 'adoption' of the Red Fort by Dalmia Bharat Group under the programme within a week after the industry conglomerate won a five-year contract worth Rs 25 crore for maintenance and creation of basic tourist facilities at this 17th century monument, built under the regime of fifth Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in Delhi.

The Opposition parties and historians on Saturday slammed the government over the move, saying handing over of the monuments to private sector players would “wipe out India’s rich legacy” even as the government clarified  that the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme of the Union culture and tourism ministries does not allow the Corporates to make profit out of it.

“I think it’s a wonderful move to preserve and protect our monuments and heritage sites. Many of our heritage sites lack basic infrastructure and tourist amenities. Since the government has limited money, we have come out with a programme to involve the private sector, the community at large, students and everybody in protection and preservation of our heritage,” Union Tourism Minister K Alphons said.

He insisted that the revenue to be generated from the facilities like a cafeteria, to be created at the monuments and other heritage sites by the entities under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme, “ will be utilised in upkeep and maintenance of the respective sites.

“There is no further involvement of the Corporates. We are not handing over the ownership of these monuments to the private sector,” the minister added.

The government announced on Tuesday awarding of the letters of intent to as many as  9 private companies including Dalmia Bharat Group for upkeep and maintenance of 22 monuments in different parts of the country under a tripartite memorandum of understanding. 

 “Red Fort is the next distinguished location that the BJP government will lease out to a private entity,” the Congress said criticising the government’s move at microblogging site, Twitter.

Interestingly, the move to involve public sector units and India Inc into upkeep and maintenance of monuments and other heritage sites was initiated by the tourism and culture ministry during the erstwhile regime of Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2013.

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Centre's ‘Adopt a Heritage’ programme sparks controversy

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