In one of the historic deals ever won by a corporate house in India, Dalmia Bharat Limited on Saturday won contracts to adopt the iconic Red Fort monument in New Delhi and the Gandikota Fort in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. The 77-year-old corporate conglomerate beat IndiGo Airlines and the GMR group to bag the contract worth Rs 25 crores spanning five years (i.e. Rs 5 crore per year).
By becoming the first corporate to be part of the 'Adopt the Heritage' initiative launched by the Prime Minister Modi led-government in September 2017, Dalmia Bharat will look after the operations and maintenance of these heritage sites for the next five years.
Under the scheme, it will construct, landscape, illuminate and maintain activities related to the provision and development of the tourist amenities. This includes basic and advanced amenities such as public conveniences, clean drinking water facilities, cleanliness of the heritage sites, proper surveillance and tourist facilitation.
The corporate has already started brainstorming on how it intends to develop the Red Fort over the next few months. It will start work on May 23 before handing it over temporarily to security agencies in July for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's last Independence Day Address of his tenure.
The group said that it plans to install tactile flooring for the physically challenged and a signage that depicts the monument's history. It added that they planned to use the Red Fort for various events such as music concerts and other cultural activities to promote greater tourist interest.
Meanwhile, the opposition Congress Party has slammed the government over the contract, accusing it of privatising India's cultural heritage sites to a corporate group.
"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?" The Congress party said 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? #IndiaSpeaks— Congress (@INCIndia) April 28, 2018
However, the Government has dismissed Congress's allegations saying that the contract signed with the Dalmia group does not involve any sort of profit-making activity. "No profit-making activity will take place", clarified Union Minister Mahesh Sharma.
Earlier a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Dalmia Group and Tne Ministry of Tourism and the Archaeological Survey of India on April 24 to take up the heritage sites.
Dalmia Bharat Limited, Ministry of Tourism and Archaeological Survey of India sign MoU to take up the Red Fort, Delhi and Gandikota Fort, Kadapa. @KJAlphons @tourismgoi @DalmiaBharat Becomes the first corporate to sign a MOU under the Government’s “Adopt a Heritage” project. pic.twitter.com/WfsHBaWjGH— Dalmia Bharat Group (@DalmiaBharat) April 24, 2018
The Ministry of Tourism also awarded the Letters of Intent to nine agencies for 22 monuments under the Phase-IV of the 'Adopt the Heritage' Project including the iconic Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh, Lotus Mahal in Hampi, Karnataka, Chittorgarh Fort in Rajasthan and Mehrauli Archeological Park in New Delhi on April 24.