Now Ski Village runs into BJP Government

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Shimla, Feb 17 (UNI) After continuing to oppose the previous Congress Government's decision to set up 350 million dollar Ski Village project in Kullu district, the new BJP state government has now officially stated that the project was not acceptable to it in its present form.

"The government will take into account all aspects, including the clearance granted by the defence ministry and the union environment ministry before work gets underway," state Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said recently.

He questioned the previous Congress government's motive in not seeking international bidding for the project and not assessing its impact on the district's environment, besides considering security aspects.

The project, promoted by Alfred B Ford, was cleared by the previous Congress Government last year and work on it was stalled following intervention by the state high court after a public interest plea was moved against the project.

Mr Dhumal said his government was opposed to foreign direct investment (FDI) as such, but would take all steps necessary to ensure that its environment was not affected.

The Himalayan Ski Village Project (HSVP) includes the development of luxury hotels, chalets, suites, conference facilities, an entertainment centre, restaurants and retail options.

Access to the mountain area for skiing, trekking and other adventure activities would be provided by a network of gondolas and chairlifts.

The project aims to employ more than 3,500 people when fully developed and HSV would hire more than 70 per cent of them from the villages around Manali town.

The HSVP has also set up a training institute for winter sports operations. The first phase saw 75 skiers from local villages being trained for the roles of ski instructors, snow safety and search and rescue operations when the resort begins its operations. This group was since then come down to 40 for advanced training in Finland.

The Himalayan Ski Village Company floated by Mr Ford had proposed to buy around 140 hectares of land from private parties and another five hectares for the ski slopes from the government on a 99-year lease.

However, locals, environmentalists and the BJP have been opposing the project, which, they said, would cause large-scale environmental degradation in Kullu district.

UNI AS PS VN1413

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