In an innovative move, the Modi government has entered into a maintenance contract with the Dalmia group. Under this MoU, the Dalmia group has been outsourced with the upkeep of the Red Fort in Delhi and the Gandikota Fort in Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh). The Dalmia group has bagged the contract for Rs. 25 crores, and has become the first company to sign an MoU under the government’s ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project in which 90 monuments are up for adoption.
It seems that the government has finally understood that the state cannot do everything. The government should keep its sphere limited and perform those activities that require its unhindered attention. In the past 70 years, the Indian monuments have remained in a bad shape when the government tried too hard to maintain them by itself. With the government’s attention diverted in several directions, this was bound to happen. Now the government has found a better way to maintain monuments across India. It is better to enter into contracts with private players for the upkeep of the monuments. This is undisputedly a more efficient way of looking after monuments and it will be easier to fix liability in case of negligence.
Unfortunately, even this commendable step on the part of the government has not gone down well with the opposition and certain vested interests. There has been a disinformation campaign against the move aimed at better upkeep of significant monuments and forts across India. There has been an attempt to portray this MoU as a sale or a leasehold. In fact, the Congress used its official Twitter handle in order to portray this move as a lease of the fort by the government. A Congress spokesperson went a step further in spreading misinformation and declared that the iconic monument has been handed over to the Dalmia group. He suggested that the Red Fort has been sold, it seems he did not bother to go into the details of the MoU signed by Dalmia group. Similarly, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee who is infamous for her anti-Hindu sentiments also helped in spreading the concoction that the Red Fort has been leased out.
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? #IndiaSpeaks
— Congress (@INCIndia) April 28, 2018
Why can’t the Government even take care of our historic Lal Qila ? Red Fort is a symbol of our nation. It is where India’s flag is hoisted on Independence Day. Why should it be leased out ? Sad and dark day in our history
— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) April 28, 2018
Other Congress and opposition handles pitched in too in this mega misinformation fest:
— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) April 28, 2018
भारत के वैभव और शौर्य की निशानी #LalQuila को डालमिया कंपनी को सौंपे जाने पर यह साबित हो गया है की यह भाजपा सरकार देश की व्यवस्था चलाने के भी क़ाबिल नहीं हैं।भाजपा देश के इतिहास की बड़ी बड़ी बात करती है आज #LalQuila को निजी कंपनी को देकर देश के इतिहास का बड़ा मज़ाक़ बना दिया हैं।
— Hardik Patel (@HardikPatel_) April 28, 2018
— MP Youth Congress (@IYCMadhya) April 29, 2018
Those who are spreading the lie that the government is selling/ leasing out our monuments do not understand that this is not a transfer of property but a mere MoU for the maintenance of the fort. The Dalmia group has been entrusted with the task of upkeeping the Red Fort, it has not been given any rights over the fort as suggested by the opposition. The opposition argument is absurd in the sense that they have deliberately mistaken contract for maintenance as a lease agreement. If one employs someone to clean his house, that is not tantamount to selling or leasing out the house to the cleaner. As a matter of fact, union minister Mahesh Sharma has made it clear that no profit activity will take place and the scope of the contract is strictly limited to maintenance. In fact, ‘adopt a Heritage’ scheme is essentially a non-revenue generation scheme. In the present MoU, the Dalmia group’s access will be limited to non-core areas for providing basic amenities and facilities to the visitors. It is beyond comprehension as to how this amounts to handing over the monument to the private entity. The opposition has also been arguing why the maintenance of the monument has been outsourced. This argument doesn’t hold water as this is not for the first time that the government has resorted to outsourcing a project for an increase in efficiency. As correctly stated by minister of state for tourism K J Alphons the private players will only spend money on upkeep and not earn anything. Basic facilities like toilets and clean drinking water will be provided in order to increase footfall. He questioned the Congress government about why they did not take such innovative steps for the last 70 years due to which almost all the monuments are in a terrible shape today.
It is also interesting to keep in mind that the outrage on the issue has been selective. While the opposition has let itself loose on “Shahjahan’s Lal Quila” being handed over to the Dalmia group, no one is talking about the Gandikota fort. The outrage regarding the handing over an iconic monument to the Dalmia group seems to be a tool to appease a particular community by projecting the government as a villian for handing over a Mughal era monument to the Dalmia group. It is also reflected in TMC MP Derek O’ Brien who has in the past wholeheartedly supported the monument adoption plan, but when “Shah Jahan’s monument” was adopted, he became agitated.
Aww, why are libtards only crying over 'ShahJahan's Red Fort' being 'taken over'? Why is no one talking about the Gandikota fort? This is an insult of Dravida Pride, no? All this North-centric politics I tell you!! #tweetlikealibtard
— Shefali Vaidya (@ShefVaidya) April 29, 2018
Propaganda vs Reality pic.twitter.com/1TXvv0Ye0K
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) April 29, 2018
However, despite the orchestrated outrage over the move, the scheme is bound to be a major success. There will in all probability be greater footfall with an improvement in facilities and basic amenities at the famous monuments.