THE Indian History Congress, in a statement issued on May 2, has said that it is greatly perturbed at the announcement that Dalmia Bharat, a cement company with no known experience of maintenance of monuments is being made the custodian of the Red Fort of Delhi, a major national monument. It has also been announced that other monuments, including the Taj Mahal, are also in line for being handed over to similar private parties.
The terms on which the Red Fort is to be handed over to Dalmia Bharat are disturbingly broad. The company can “construct” as well as “landscape”, and it will run an “interpretation centre” as well.
The Indian History Congress has already expressed its dismay over the freedom allowed to the Aga Khan Trust to interfere with the basic structures, decorations and ornamentation of Mughal monuments in the Humayun Tomb complex and surrounding areas.
The way the Red Fort is being entrusted to Dalmia Bharat is still more troubling for the company has no claim to any experience in maintenance, conservation, preservation and interpretation of monuments. There is ample room for the fear that in order to attract tourist traffic it may propagate false or unproven interpretations of particular structures in the complex. Once such claims are set afloat, especially when they are of a sectarian character it is found extremely difficult to get rid of them.
It is, therefore, necessary that the whole arrangement be impartially reviewed by the Central Advisory Board of Archaeology or any other recognised body of experts and, until then, the deal over the Red Fort be kept suspended.