Monuments await adoption, corporate houses turn their backs in Karnataka

The state government’s ambitious ‘Adopt a Monument’ scheme received a lukewarm response from corporate houses and organisations, with only two of the 53 identified monuments getting an ‘expression of interest’ over the last year. The scheme was launched in September 2022.

Poor publicity, lack of facilities at the monuments and a perception that corporate houses would not receive ‘positive publicity’ as footfall to these monuments is less are some reasons behind the poor response.

According to the Department of Archaeology, Museums and Heritage (DAMH), Karnataka is home to more than 20,000 heritage monuments. The state government is in charge of the upkeep of only 800 of them.

Only two organisations — Deccan Heritage Foundation and World Monument Foundation — have adopted Gagan Mahal in Koppal’s Anegundi and Vijaypur’s Taj Bawdi, respectively. Monuments can be adopted for a period of five years, with DAMH officials monitoring development works. 

Deccan Heritage Foundation’s India chairperson Latha Reddy said they “expressed interest” in adopting Gagan Mahal as they had renovated it over five years (2017-22). “Management of the monument after restoration is important which is why we adopted it,” she said. The annual maintenance cost is Rs 4-5 lakh.

Raja’s tombs (Madikeri), Anegundi Fort (Koppal), Hampi monuments, Sanganakallu and Kappagallu sirivara (pre-historic and neolithic ash mounds), Kittur Rani Channamma palace and surrounding areas in Belagavi are up for adoption.

The adoption scheme can be a boon to monuments which are in dire need of attention, said Dharwad-based activist Ravindranath Doddameti. “Any corporate house would expect some positive ‘returns’ (not monetary) by adopting monuments. However, some of these monuments do not have proper road connectivity. They see very less footfall,” said the corporate communication manager of a Bengaluru-based multinational company.

Under the programme, the government pronounces the organisation adopting a monument as ‘Smaraka Mitra’ and categorises it for managing basic tourist amenities, advance amenities and conservation work.

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Historian and Sanganakallu Museum Committee member Ravi Korishettar explained that even though companies have sufficient funds to renovate historical monuments in Karnataka, there is reluctance due to the lack of a proactive government machinery and detailed developmental plans.

Devaraju A, Department of Archaeology and Museum Heritage Commissioner, said that the deputy commissioners of each district have been asked to communicate with the representatives of companies that can adopt one monument in their respective districts.

“However, due to elections and other issues, the DCs are unable to hold meetings,” he said.

The scheme is aimed at utilising corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds to improve infrastructure to aid tourism, promote cultural and heritage values of an area, and generate employment opportunities and livelihoods of communities around a monument. 

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