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Curtain finally down on Rs 1,600 cr Himalayan Ski village project

Curtain finally down on Rs 1,600 cr Himalayan Ski village project

Shimla: Twelve years after Alfred B Ford, great grandson of US businessman Henry Ford's company, signed an Implementation Agreement (IA) with Himachal Pradesh government to set-up a Rs 1,600 cr sprawling Himalayan Ski village project at Manali — world famous hill destination, the BJP government on Friday decided to bring the curtain down on the controversial project.

The project proposal cleared by the earlier Congress regime in 2003-2007, had witnessed major opposition by the locals who feared threat to their livelihoods, lands and also resulting in environmental degradation of the fragile hill ecology. Yet, the government led by Virbhadra Singh went ahead to sign the IA (Implementation Agreement) with the company on June 5, 2006, but the project did not make any headway during past 12 years. The state cabinet which met in Shimla on Thursday under Chairmanship of Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur decided to cancel MoU signed by the state government and also the IA.

State's Additional Chief Secretary (Tourism ) Ram Subhag Singh said, "It's true that the cabinet has approved the

proposal to cancel the MoU and Implementation Agreement signed on 5-6-2006 with M/s Himalayan Ski Village Limited for setting up of

Ski Village in Kullu district of the State".

The Himalayan Ski village company proposes to develop world-class ski slopes between Kothi and Jagat Sukh, north of Manali with gondola ski-lifts that will cater to well-heeled adventure tourists. There will also be a 600-room five-star hotel, 300 chalets, food courts, handicraft village, theatre complex and convention centre. The state government has been assured an income of Rs 30 to 50 crore per annum.

But protests erupted immediately after the government cleared the proposal to attract major investment in the tourism sector. Environmental groups, NGOs and locals resorted to dharnas and protests which were also backed by the BJP –then in the opposition.

"Where is the need for such a mega-scale project in the ecologically fragile valley. Manali is already facing pressures beyond its carrying capacity. Second, the company was given opportunity to re-submit its proposal bringing down the scale and size of the project without harming locals' interests and rights. But, it failed to show-up," Govind Thakur, minister for forests, who is also Manali MLA told the Millenium Post.

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