The Trinamool Congress today demanded that the government immediately scrap plans of letting a private company "adopt" the iconic Red Fort.
After reports of the government's decision to allow the Dalmia Bharat Ltd to maintain and develop the monument, TMC MP Derek O'Brien also refuted reports that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism, that he heads, approved the tourism ministry's proposal to go ahead with a "corporate adoption" of the Red Fort.
"Our leader (TMC chief) Mamata Banerjee had earlier tweeted and said that the government must put a stop to its decision of allowing private companies to adopt the Red Fort. The TMC wants immediate scrapping of the decision," the TMC leader told PTI.
He said the ministry had presented the idea called "Adopt a Heritage" to the committee in February 2018 for adopting 100 monuments.
"Though I cannot disclose the verbatim records of the meetings, we had serious reservations about the execution of the government's ideas. We made some concrete suggestions like doing a prototype (pilot) on one or two of the monuments before proceeding at all with the idea. They never got back to us.
"...the next thing we see is the Dalmia-Red Fort deal. We also insisted that the vision document should come from the ministry after consulting all stakeholders," O'Brien said.
The minutes of a meeting of the Oversight and Vision Committee on Adopt a Heritage project of the Ministry of Tourism, held on October 23 last year, show that at least one bid was rejected by the ministry because of the sensitive nature of the Red Fort.
"Despite a government committee rejecting the idea and the parliamentary committee advising the government for a pilot to set the bench mark , the Centre went ahead with its decision. The TMC just wants the government to put a stop to it", O'Brien insisted.
According to an MoU signed between the Ministry of Tourism and the Dalmia Bharat Limited, the latter would maintain the monument and build basic infrastructure around it and has committed a sum of Rs 25 crore for the purpose over a period spanning five years.