Opposition raises questions on Centre’s move to give the monument to Dalmia Bharat for maintenance.
The Red Fort makeover is under a cloud of controversy. The Congress on Saturday questioned how Dalmia Bharat, a private entity, was given the mandate to maintain the iconic Red Fort. However, the government has defended its move, stating the scheme was launched last year to attract public participation to develop heritage monuments.
This comes days after the ministry of tourism and the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) signed an MoU with conglomerate Dalmia Bharat for the adoption of the monument under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project of the Centre. Under this, the almost 400-year-old heritage monument is set to become a lively public space with modern amenities soon. stimated to cost `25 crore, the project will span over five years.
The makeover, which will not involve any changes to the structure of the monument, will result in better seating facilities, cleaner surroundings and better accessibility to the remote corners of the fort. There are also plans to open an interpretation centre to help visitors get a better understanding of the monument’s history. Disabled-friendly pavements and Braille signages are on the cards too.
Other amenities will include a multilingual audio guide, digital interactive kiosks, LED screenings, free Wi-Fi, cloakrooms, a surveillance system, etc. “The idea is to create a better visitor experience. We will install more dustbins, benches, etc. We will also light up the monument—both from within and outside,” says Sundeep Kumar, executive director, Dalmia Bharat, adding, “We plan to introduce light and sound shows as well, with regular cultural shows…. plus, facilitation of night visits to the monument. The shows will be changed frequently to give visitors a new experience. A website and app will also be set up to help visitors navigate better inside the premises.”
A tie-up such as this between the government and a private body might not only facilitate better upkeep and maintenance of a heritage monument, but also eases the government’s burden. The restoration of Humayun’s Tomb is a great example. A joint initiative of the ASI, Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Public Works Department and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the monument was restored in 2013. The site, which, till a decade ago, had a leaking dome, missing tiles, collapsing walls and damaged stone façades, is a site to behold today. Next up is the Red Fort.