What is the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ Programme?

  • Through agreements with the Union Ministry of Culture, private firms, companies, and public sector units can adopt and maintain State-owned archaeological sites or monuments.
  • These businesses are known as “Monument Mitras” under the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ Scheme.

Adopt a Heritage Programme

  • The ‘Adopt a Heritage: Apni Dharohar, Apni Pehchaan’ scheme is a joint effort by the Ministries of Tourism and Culture, as well as the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • It was launched in September 2017 with the goal of developing chosen monuments and heritage sites across India with the help of public and commercial entities.
  • The programme focuses on supplying and maintaining basic amenities, as well as enhancing accessibility, cleanliness, lighting, and modern facilities like as security systems and night-viewing capabilities.

Selection and Adoption Process

  • Sites/monuments are chosen based on tourist traffic and visibility, and they can be adopted by business and public sector organisations, as well as individuals known as “Monument Mitras.”
  • The Monument Mitras is chosen by the Oversight and Vision Committee, which is co-chaired by the Tourism Secretary and the Culture Secretary, based on their vision for developing the site.
  • There is no financial bid in the selection process, and corporate entities are required to spend their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funding to maintain the site.
  • The designated locations provide the Monument Mitras minimal visibility on the premises and on the Incredible India website.
  • In the event of noncompliance or nonperformance, the oversight committee has the ability to terminate the memorandum of understanding.

Previous Initiatives and Disputes

  • The government earlier established the National Culture Fund and launched the ‘Campaign Clean India’ plan to include the corporate sector in the upkeep of tourism attractions.
  • The ‘Adopt a Heritage’ initiative sparked outrage when it was revealed that Dalmia Bharat would build infrastructure and preserve the Red Fort under a Memorandum of Understanding.
  • Critics noted that the involvement of private parties in renowned structures raised issues about India’s heritage preservation.
  • The government defended the policy, claiming that it was designed to enhance visitor traffic and improve site maintenance.

The Scheme’s Dangers and Challenges

  • ASI’s declining role: The concept ignores established rules for exhibiting excavated objects and minimises the involvement of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
  • Allowing corporations to occupy prime public property and create their branding can further degrade the grounds around renowned landmarks.
  • Impacts of demographics: The participation of large corporations in guided tours and monument illumination may have an impact on local communities and their livelihoods.
  • Concerns have been raised concerning businesses altering the historical character of sites that are not protected by the ASI or are located in states without Archaeology Directorates.

The scheme is intended by the government.

  • Businesses can assist citizens in understanding why monuments are important by allocating CSR cash for grants for researching, writing, and publishing high-quality textbooks, as well as developing inventive and effective methods of teaching history.
  • Skilled conservation: By looking inward, industrial houses can promote the meaningful conservation of heritage buildings.
  • Collaborative efforts: The resources and skills of the business sector may also assist the ASI and State Archaeology Directorates in protecting monuments from dams, mining projects, defacement, and looting.
  • Cultural contribution: By adopting historical preservation principles, corporations and organisations may demonstrate India’s progress in preserving its pluralistic past and motivate citizen participation in this endeavour.

Way forward

  • Selection procedure that is open and transparent: Implement a fair and transparent selection procedure for entities or Monument Mitras to adopt heritage sites, while maintaining responsibility and preventing favouritism.
  • Develop a strong monitoring system to guarantee that the adopted sites are maintained and developed in accordance with the agreed-upon criteria and norms.
  • Protocols for preservation: To conserve the historical and cultural integrity of heritage sites, strictly follow to preservation recommendations established by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and other relevant agencies.
  • Involve local communities and stakeholders in decision-making processes to encourage their participation, ownership, and commitment to conservation efforts.
  • Tourism practises that are environmentally friendly: Encourage sustainable tourist practises that reduce environmental damage, preserve local culture and heritage, and bring socioeconomic advantages to communities living near heritage sites.
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