HUBBALLI: After the historical Red Fort in New Delhi given to a private company for maintenance under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ scheme of Union government, the corporates are making a beeline for adopting heritage monuments in Karnataka. A senior Archeological department official confirmed to The New Indian Express that at least five corporate companies have evinced interest in monuments of Hampi and Bengaluru.
The official told TNIE that corporates, including Orange County Group, MakeMyTrip and a resort chain, are keen on adopting monuments in Hampi and Bengaluru. In the first phase, the Lotus Mahal in Hampi and Tipu’s Summer Palace in Bengaluru will be adopted, and in the next phase individual monuments in Hampi and Gol Gumbaz in Vijayapura will be maintained by private players.“The upkeep of the structures will remain with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),” said the official, adding that private groups will maintain the monuments and their surroundings facilitating the visitors.
The Centre’s move to involve private players in the maintenance of monuments was mainly due to staff shortage, say officials concerned. But the leasing out of Red Fort had sparked opposition from different quarters.Historians in Karnataka are too not very pleased with the idea of private players maintaining the heritage buildings and monuments.
Abdul Aziz from Vijayapura said that there is no need to lease out monuments to private players when the monuments are bringing good revenues for the ASI. “Monuments like Gol Gumbaz and World Heritage Site of Hampi attract large number of tourists and revenues from tickets are more than sufficient for their upkeep. The government’s plan to lease out historical structure to private players is unacceptable.What is the guarantee that the private players will not alter the original structure ?,” he asked, adding a monument is Delhi was defaced in the name of alteration and age-old Persian tiles were removed.
Ajiz also opined that the ASI must start looking for alternatives to get more people on board to manage the monuments.“Vijayapura city has close to 100 monuments that are protected by various agencies, including the ASI. But you don’t find a guard in many monuments. The ASI can hire local daily wage workers for Rs 10-12,000 per month,” he added.
Historian from Bengaluru Arun Prasad termed the development as ridiculous. “The government itself should manage the monuments and their surroundings. There are strict laws under the ASI which prevent altering of any structures. With private players trying to make money out of their contract, the aesthetics of the structures will be compromised in all likelihood,” he said.