Ski Village is becoming a victim of Himachal politics – John Sims

Shimla: Troubled by the last weeks decision of the state government to serve notice on Himalayan Ski Village (HSV) promoters over setting up of a multi-million ski resort near Manali, the international consortium of investors intend to press their case even though they consider that investments made were in peril.

John Sims, who heads the consortium and is managing director of HSV said, “After so many ministers came to London and USA proclaiming India to be friendly to FDI, we came with sincere intentions to participate.”

After following the procedures threadbare we have got caught in the political rivalry between two political parties and now our investments are in peril. It is a sad day for the unemployed and Foreign Direct Investment in India. However, we will continue to press our case, said Sims

On the other hand the state government holds that despite providing HSV an opportunity for submitting an environment impact assessment report more than once, the promoters had failed to do so.

Himalayan Ski Village (Concept)

After the cabinet decided to serve notice on Friday, highly placed sources disclosed, that Sims and Aflred Ford, a grandson of Ford Motors Co founder Henry who is one of the HSV directors, met chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal to present their side of the case.

One official privy to the matter said “they were told that the show cause notice was issued on the basis of a committee report that was headed by principal secretary tourism. The committee that even did hold a public hearing has reported about opposition from local people for the project and has also pointed out other lapses,” he added.

The project ran into trouble right at the start when John Sims with his long term associate Alfred Ford, in March 2004 proposed to set up a world class ski resort in the higher altitudes of Manali that would even have facilities for hosting a winter Olympics.

In principal approved by the then congress government headed by Virbhadra Singh and an implementation agreement was signed but was opposed by BJP, then in the opposition who termed it a sell out.

Two public interest litigations opposing the project were filed in quick succession and a congregation of local devtas of Kullu valley through their oracles decreed against the project, yet the promoters pressed ahead recruiting local ski instructors and training them in Finland.

With BJP winning the 2007 elections, the new government headed by PK Dhumal decided to review the project and let the High Court know in April 2008 that a high level committee had been set up for the purpose.

Proposed to be set up over an area of 116 acres at over 14,000 feet altitude with an investment of $300 million the village was envisaged to construct a 700 room five star hotel, 300 Swiss-style chalets, 6 Km gondola, a large convention centre, a local market and even had mooted a private airport for easy accessibility.

With reports surfacing that the largest FDI project in tourism was actually an attempt to circumvent the law, for the real intent was allegedly real estate, the enforcement directorate is also reported to have initiated investigations regarding funding of the project.

As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post. Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.

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