Tourism Minister KJ Alphons on Taj Mahal on lease controversy: We cannot run Taj, the way it is being run

New Delhi: Having handed over the Red Fort on a platter to a private party – albeit on lease — Tourism Minister K J Alphons on Tuesday wondered what was the problem in entrusting a private company with the task of restoring the Taj Mahal, too, under the government’s ‘Adopt-a-Heritage’ scheme.

“For your information, the Taj is also on the list of monuments intended for adoption. And why not? If the Colosseum in Rome can be run by a footwear company, why not entrust the challenging maintenance of the Taj to a heritage loving private caretaker? The minister was asked at a media interaction if the ministry would consider giving the breath-taking Taj Mahal to the Tatas or the Aga Khan Foundation for upkeep. To buttress argument, Alphons drew attention to the “excellent work” done on the Humayun’s Tomb by the Aga Khan Foundation. Replying to another question on the Supreme Court observations on Taj Mahal, the Minister said: ‘‘Taj is Taj. It is the most beautiful monument in the world. I completely agree with you that we cannot run the Taj the way it is being run. We want to ensure that the Taj continues to be a jewel in our crown. Agra city needs to be completely transformed. I think, this is where the municipal corporation and the State come in.”

Recently, the ministry had run into a controversy when the Red Fort was entrusted to the Dalmia Bharat Group, a cement company, for maintenance.

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