'Monument mitras' (friends of heritage sites) have been appointed for five heritage sites in Delhi, including the Red Fort, under the government's ambitious 'Adopt a Heritage' scheme.
According to information obtained from the 'Adopt a Heritage' cell of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the national capital's Red Fort and Andhra Pradesh's Gandikota Fort have been included in the scheme.
Lucknow-based RTI activist Aishwarya Parashar had sought information from the Prime Minister's Office about the progress made on the 'Adopt a Heritage' scheme.
On April 9, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Government of India and the Dalmia Bharat Group appointing it as the 'Monument Mitra' of the Red Fort, information obtained under the RTI said.
On June 11, the government signed a MoU with the Caper Travel Company, appointing the firm as the 'monument mitra' for Azim Khan's Tomb located on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road, the Jamali Kamali heritage in Mehrauli Archaeological Park, Rajon Ki Baoli and Moth Ki Masjid, it added.
Under the MoU, the Dalmia Group will work to improve the amenities at the Red Fort in a time-bound manner. These will include drinking water kiosks, maintaining cleanliness, a surveillance system, comfortable chairs for tourists and improved facilities for the differently-abled, the response to the RTI application said.
Work will also be done to provide better lighting in the Red Fort, better toilets, 3D projection mapping, organising sound and light shows and improving the mobile app, it said.
The RTI application response added that efforts will be made to organise cultural programmes within the Red Fort premises after obtaining permission from the ASI and the use of battery operated vehicles will be encouraged.
The Union Tourism Ministry, Ministry of Culture, ASI and the respective companies are party to the MoUs signed for adoption of these monuments. The MoU has been signed for an initial period of five years.
According to the terms of the MoUs, the companies will not earn any revenue from the people coming to visit the adopted monument.
The idea of 'Adopt a Heritage' scheme was mulled by the Ministry of Culture between October 5 to 25, 2017 and various aspects for its implementation were discussed, the response to the RTI application said.
It was proposed to hold a meeting with 80 leading industry players and corporate houses on October 13, 2017, it added.
Later it was proposed to invite 200 publicly listed and private companies for adoption of heritage and other tourist sites, the response said.
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