The Indian government has handed over a part of Red Fort to a private company as part of a controversial “Adopt A Heritage” scheme.
According to The National, cement corporation The Dalmia Bharat Group paid 250 million rupees to adopt the Red Fort for five years.
“We will endeavour to make Red Fort a world-class monument in terms of amenities and experience,” said Sundeep Kumar, the executive director of Dalmia Bharat. The company plans to take initiatives that will “enhance the tourist experience”.
The Bhartiya Janata Party-led government, under the ‘Adopt A Heritage’ scheme, plans to entrust heritage sites/monuments and other tourist sites to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for the development of tourist amenities. They would become ‘Monument Mitras’ and adopt the sites.
The move has been criticized by the opposition parties.
Around 2.5 million visitors from across the world visit Red Fort each year, only to find crumbling brickwork, vandalised walls, rubbish strewn in corners and inadequate toilets.
Red Fort is said to be New Delhi’s most iconic monument. Emperor Shahjahan laid the foundations in 1638 and was the seat of the Mughal empire for around 200 years.
According to the Britannica, The fort’s massive red sandstone walls, which stand 75 feet (23 metres) high, enclose a complex of palaces and entertainment halls, projecting balconies, baths and indoor canals, and geometrical gardens, as well as an ornate mosque.
Among the most famous structures of the complex are the Hall of Public Audience (Diwan-i-Am), which has 60 red sandstone pillars supporting a flat roof, and the Hall of Private Audience (Diwan-i-Khas), which is smaller, with a pavilion of white marble.
The fort was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007.