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How to become a Monument Mitra

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The recently launched Incredible India 2.0 campaign also unveiled the ‘Adopt a Heritage’ project by the ministry of tourism. The project will entrust heritage sites, monuments and other tourist spots to private sector companies, public sector companies and individuals for development of tourist amenities. These companies would thus become ‘Monument Mitras’ by adopting these sites and taking care of the basic amenities at these destinations. From cleanliness of the area, infrastructure and basic amenities, these companies will be looking after the sites.

The project has begun with 93 ASI ticketed monuments and will slowly expand to other natural and cultural sites in India. For convenience, the sites have been classified into various categories and packaged on basis of visibility and footfall. Seven shortlisted companies were given letters of intent for 14 monuments under ‘Adopt a Heritage Scheme’ of ministry of tourism at the closing ceremony of Paryatan Parv at Rajpath Lawns in New Delhi. These companies have taken up these projects as part of their CSR initiatives and promised to look after these monuments.

Speaking to Express TravelWorld, Ashima Mehrotra, director, ministry of tourism, stated, “Regardless of the plethora of heritage sites in the country, many are left untapped by the tourists because of lack of awareness or basic facilities. Only a few local people know of some places that have not been listed on the tourism map. Through this initiative, the companies will look after these sites, make it accessible to everyone so the government can promote it in their international campaigns and through tourism offices.”

List of companies which have already undertaken projects

1. SBI Foundation shortlisted for the adoption of Jantar Mantar, Delhi
2. TK International shortlisted for the adoption of Sun Temple, Konark; Raja Rani Temple, Bhubaneshwar; Ratnagiri Monuments, Jajpur, Odisha
3. Yatra Online shortlisted for the adoption of Hampi, Karnataka; Leh Palace, Jammu & Kashmir; Qutub Minar, Delhi; Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
4. Travel Corporation of India shortlisted for the adoption of Mattancherry Palace Museum, Kochi; Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi
5. ATOAI shortlisted for the adoption of Gangotri Temple Area and Trail to Gaumukh; Mt Stok Kangri, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir
6. Special Holidays Travel, along with Rotary Club of Delhi, shortlisted for the adoption of Agrasen ki Baoli, Delhi
7. NBCC shortlisted for the adoption of Purana Quila, Delhi

The initial phase received 57 responses where 14 monuments were adopted through seven expression of interests. The companies ranging from different sectors of hospitality, travel and banking were carefully looked into before being finalised as a ‘Monument Mitra’.

Adventure Tour Operators Association of India (ATOAI), which is actively promoting sustainable tourism, adopted Gangotri Temple Area, trail to Gaumukh and Mt Stok Kangri, Ladakh. Capt Swadesh Kumar, president, ATOAI, informed, “We have already been following sustainable practices at these tourism spots. Our porters carry extra bags to collect the waste on these hiking trails and bring waste back to be disposed in a proper manner. Our association with the government will enable us to be more involved in the area and actively promote the region in a sustainable manner.”

The scheme has been drafted by the ministry of tourism in collaboration with ministry of culture and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI). In order to make India a tourism friendly destination and have world class infrastructure at popular tourist destinations, the government has roped in the private sector as well as the public sector. Commenting on the second phase of the campaign, Mehrotra added, “We have once again received an overwhelming response in phase two, many individuals, law firms and educational institutes have come forward not restricting it to the travel or hospitality sector. We will be carefully assessing the companies to see their vision for development. It will also be noted if the companies are financially stable to maintain these sites.”

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