Cong sees Red as Dalmia holds Fort

Dalmia Group adopts Shah Jahan's Red Fort for 5 years; Opposition seeks clarification on profit-taking activity

Slamming the Modi government decision to give a contract to a private firm for maintenance of the Red Fort, the Congress on Saturday charged the Modi Government with "bartering away the symbol of freedom movement like Red Fort to his corporate friends for maintenance". "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. As a part of responsible tourism, "Monument Mitra" will spend CSR funds and will be granted "limited visibility" at the monument and on the ministry's Incredible India website.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee termed the decision a dark day in India's history. Facilities like wheelchairs, battery-operated vehicles, braille signages are some of the key additions, which will make the Red Fort a barrier-free monument.

Every year since Indian Independence Day in 1947, prime minister addresses the nation from the ramparts of the gate and hoists the national flag. Why should it be leased out?

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Maharashtra had launched a similar scheme with monuments under its archaeological department in 2007, but only one corporate house has come forward so far to maintain the Naldurg Fort. "You may have the MacDonalds Stadium but you certainly don't have the MacDonalds Lincoln Memorial". The Congress Party is asking the government to clarify that no profit activity will take place at the Red Fort.

The Dalmia Bharat group, under the memorandum of understanding, would maintain the monument and build basic infrastructure around it and has committed a sum of ₹25 crore for the goal over a period spanning five years.

As per the MoU, Dalmia Bharat will have to construct, landscape, illuminate and maintain activities related to provision and development of tourist amenities.

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The Dalmia Bharat group has started brainstorming on how it intends to develop the Red Fort over the next few months. Other Delhi monuments that have been adopted are Purana Qila (by NBCC), Jantar Mantar (SBI Foundation), Qutub Minar (Yatra, an online travel portal), Safdarjung Tomb (Travel Corporation of India) and Agrasen Ki Baoli (Special Holidays Travel Pvt Ltd and Rotary Club of Delhi). "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?" it said in a tweet. "It will help us integrate the Dalmia brand with India", Mahendra Singhi, group CEO of Dalmia Bharat Cement, said.

"We have taken steps they could not take in 60 years".

Tasks that need to be completed within two years include setting-up exhibitions in cells under the Asad Burj, virtual reality-based monument interpretation, building night trails and structural illumination of the entire Red Fort.

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The iconic Taj Mahal is the next monument in the list and as per reports ITC and GMR Sports are the finalists in the race to adopt the seventh wonder of the world. With specific reference to Dalmia Bharat being awarded adoption rights over Red Fort, the ministry said, "The agency was selected on the basis of unique concept of vision bid and no financial bid is involved".

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