Himachal Pradesh to have four more hill stations

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Shimla, Oct 30: With all the major hill stations overcrowded and choked, Himachal Pradesh is planning to develop four more tourist destinations to reduce the pressure on the existing ones. These would be in Sirmaur, Mandi, Chamba and Shimla districts

Right now, the major tourist towns in Himachal include Shimla, Dalhousie, Dharamshala and Kasauli. All of them were developed by the Britishers before independence, but rising population, unplanned development and increase in vehicular traffic has been choking the cities.

In Sirmaur district, a hill station is proposed to be developed as new tourist destination between Rajgarh and Haripurdhar. In Shimla, a new destination would be developed in Pabbar valley between Larot and Chanshal. Sources say, Chanshal has the best free skiing slope of 10-11 km in Asia.

The next would be in Jot at an altitude of 8,000 feet between Dalhousie and Chowari. Mandi, the abode of Mandi rulers at one point, is the next spot, located at an altitude of 5,500 feet.

Vijay Singh Mankotia, the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Board (HPTDB) vice-chairman said,"It is a shame that even after so many years after Independence we could not develop even a single hill destination of our own despite having no dearth of such places."

He further added,"pressure on existing hill stations developed during British rule was so great that they have become saturated and that in the new hill stations proposed under public-private partnership (PPP) mode no overdevelopment or unplanned construction would be allowed. We already have learnt lessons from overexploitation of existing hill stations so roads would be kept wide and buildings would be strictly according to hill architecture."

Arrangement for Land banks in the proposed projects is underway.

"Once land bank is created it would be transferred further to tourism department for allotment to companies planning to help in setting up the project," said Mankotia. Invitations will be sent out to companies from the hospitality sector and a detailed presentation will be made during the 3-day conclave, convened by Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) in Chandigarh from December 5 to 7.

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