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‘Monument mitras’ will not touch heritage sites

‘Monument mitras’ will not touch heritage sites
May 07
12:05 2018

Jayanta Malla Baruah

GUWAHATI: The core areas of the heritage sites and monuments in Assam will not be touched by the “monument mitras” under the Centre’s “Adopt a Heritage” scheme, a state tourism department official has said.
The “monument mitras” (friends of heritage sites) will only be allowed to provide basic amenities at the tourist spots, he added.
Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) Chairman Jayanta Malla Baruah asserted at a press meet here that the “monument mitras” would, in no way, be allowed to go near the core area of the ASI/state heritage sites or monuments.

“They will only be involved in the maintenance of the entry gates, toilets, parking facilities, cafeterias, lighting and signage in the periphery areas with no revenue rights,” he said, adding that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) will continue to maintain the core sites and monuments.
The ATDC chairman’s response came after protests began in the state against the proposed handing over of the United Nations’ World Heritage Site, the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), and three 18th-century Ahom kingdom monuments to private companies.

“An unnecessary controversy and a misconception have been created due to lack of communication, sending the wrong message that Kaziranga and the Ahom monuments in Sivasagar district are being handed over to the monument mitras,” Baruah said.
Under the Centre’s “Adopt a Heritage” scheme, any public sector unit (PSU), private company or individual could become a “monument mitra” for providing basic and advanced amenities in the non-core areas by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the government for two years and then, for another three years for maintaining the structures, he added.
The PSUs and private companies could adopt the monuments as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, the ATDC chairman added.
A local travel company had submitted its expression of interest (EoI) for adopting the KNP and the Ahom kingdom’s royal palace, Kareng Ghar, amphitheatre Rang Ghar and Shiva Doul (temple), he said.

Clarifying that the “monument mitras” would not be allowed inside the KNP, Baruah said, “The Park is the property of the Assam forest department. Even we, the tourism department, are not allowed to construct any tourist facility there without the permission of the forest department.”
Stating that the companies would not be allowed to maintain even the gardens and pathways near the core sites and monuments or put their banners there, the ATDC chairman said, “They can, however, put their signboards in the basic and advanced amenities areas.”
The All Assam Students’ Union, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, various other students’ and social organizations in Assam protested against the Centre’s decision by burning effigies of the prime minister and Union tourism minister across the north-eastern state, police sources said. PTI

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