Red Fort monument – One of the recent news that has caught everybody’s attention is the central Government’s move to lease out Red Fort, one of the most well-known historical monuments in India, to Dalmia Bharat Limited, a corporate house.
The move has resulted in polarising opinions and viewpoints with some suggesting the Government has done the right thing as the corporate would maintain the monument well and the rest of the opinion that a monument of historic and cultural significance should not be handed over to a private, commercial organisation.
Let us look at the facts first.
The Dalmia Bharat Limited clinched a contract to adopt the Red Fort and the Gandikota Fort for a period of five years for Rs.25 crores. The corporate house has got the right to maintain the monument and build infrastructure around it. So, did the Government make the right decision by handing over the reins of a historic monument to a corporate house?
There is no straight answer to this as if you try and understand the situation, you will realise there are both pros and cons involved in it.
If you have visited some of the most famous monuments and historical structures in India, you will realise a majority of them are in shambles are not being looked after properly. The paucity of funds (or at least that is what the government would like us to believe) results in these monuments being neglected. If corporate houses start adopting them, one could expect them to be looked after well as a well-recognized private company is answerable to the public and if they, like the government, neglect them, they would come under the scanner and it would affect their reputation.
But why would a corporate house invest so much money to look after a historical monument?
Corporate Social Responsibility, did you say?
Well, that could be one of the minor reasons but the real agenda is something else.
As stared earlier, the company also reserves the right to build infrastructure around it. Now, that is something the government needs to keep a check on as the development of commercial properties around historical monuments can hamper it in different ways. If the infrastructure built around it makes it difficult for people to visit the monument, it will result in a decline in tourism. The infrastructure could also result in creating a cluttered space around the monument. Before leasing out public property, the government must make sure that the private companies would not exploit them and exercise the rights that have been granted to them in a responsible manner.
Whether the government move to lease out to a private company turns out to be fruitful or backfires, only time will tell. There are differing opinions on this one and it is a good thing that people are discussing it but it would not be right to arrive at a decision right now. One must wait patiently and see how things unfold to get a clearer picture whether this experiment turns out to be successful or not.