New Delhi: As reports of the Dalmia Bharat Group, an Indian conglomerate winning the bid to adopt the iconic 17th-century world heritage site, The Red Fort, went viral, history experts showed concern that the handing over might lead to misuse of power and interference with history. Some even showed concern over not including the experts in the committee and giving it to a group which has no expertise or past experience in dealing with a heritage monument.
“The revenue generated by the Red Fort between 2013 and 2014 was over Rs 6.15 crore when the ticket price was only Rs 10. Currently, the price is Rs 30 and thus we are talking about big numbers here. I just wish that they had put experts in the committee,” said KK Muhammed, a renowned archaeologist and former regional director (North) of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Historians believe that preservation and conservation are technical works and should not be given to anyone else but ASI, while the cafeteria and other similar parts could be outsourced. The adoption, however, gives Dalmia the right to look after the operations and maintenance of the site for five years. Under the project, it will construct, landscape, illuminate and maintain activities related to provision and development of tourist amenities.
“I just hope that they do not call it ‘Dalmia Durg’ or something. There are groups like these doing similar work but not using these monuments for advertisements. If Dalmia decides to call it their fort or put hoardings in front of it, then that would be a serious issue. It is a monument which represents India’s Independence and ‘Republic’,” said Sohail Hashmi, a renowned historian.
There are some experts who want to see what the group has in store. For instance, Delhi-based heritage activist Vikramjit Singh says that he is open to the idea of adoption provided there is no interference with history. Let us just hope that now we do not hear a Reliance or an Adani Taj Mahal.