Even as a controversy broke out over a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Dalmia Bharat Limited and the Ministry of Tourism over ‘adoption’ of the Red Fort, it came to light that the corporation has also ‘adopted’ Gandikota Fort in Andhra Pradesh.
The Ministry had said, "Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan" is a collaborative effort between the Ministry, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), states and union territories which aims to develop synergy among all partners to effectively promote 'responsible tourism'.
Under the contract, the conglomerate will focus on providing basic amenities, including cleanliness, public conveniences, drinking water, ease of access for differently abled and senior citizens and others for both domestic and foreign tourists.
Stating that the 14th century Fort was located close to their cement factory in Kadapa district, Sundeep Kumar, executive director of Dalmia Bharat group, said in a statement: “The Gandikota Fort’s location is quite remote. It’s a living monument. We don’t want to evict any of the many households residing there; rather, we want to involve them in its maintenance. One of our primary tasks will be cleaning up the area as certain parts are being used as open toilets. No one wants to smell ammonia while strolling through the Fort.”
The company also said that like the Red Fort, it will not charge any “collection fee or convenience fee” from the general public.
The Tourism Ministry said that under the 'Monument Mitras' project, it has approved 31 agencies so far to adopt a total of 95 monuments and tourism sites across India.
"So far, four MoUs have been signed between different stakeholders -- for Mt. Stok Kangri in Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, the trail to Gaumukh in Uttarakhand, the Red Fort in Delhi, and the Gandikota Fort in Andhra Pradesh," it said.
A statement by Dalmia Bharat on April 25 said that the company has joined 'Monument Mitras' along with other private sector companies, to look after the operation and maintenance of this heritage site for five years, with a spend of over Rs 5 crore per annum.