The tourism project gets fresh lease of life
Shimla: In limbo for over six years, the Himalayan Ski Village project got a fresh lease of life after a Himachal Pradesh High Court quashed a cancellation notice by the state government clearing the path for executing the project; provided environment and other mandatory clearances are obtained.
Allowing the petition of Kullu based Himachal Ski Village Pvt Ltd, Justice Rajiv Sharma in a 77 page order last week (June 22) cancelled the state government cancellation notice of January 7, 2010 and permitted the company to proceed with the project which was approved by the state cabinet on November 18, 2005.
However the court directed the company to obtain necessary clearances which included environmental clearances from all concerned authorities within a period of six months
Before setting aside the government cancellation notice, the judge observed that “it is duly established that the state government had already made up its mind to cancel the project and the issuance of notice based on the recommendations of the committee was merely a ritual.
The notice issued to the company dated 7.1.2010 is without jurisdiction and authority of law. The action of the state to issue notice is unreasonable, the order points out.
The judge also observed that issuance of the show cause notice was not necessary as the company had primarily complied with all conditions of memorandum of understanding, implementation agreement and detailed project reports submitted and approved by the government.
The court also rejected a public hearing conducted by the government to record the views of the local residents on the ground that it should have been carried out by the HP State Pollution Control Board and not the state government.
The court also observed that there was merit in the arguments of the petitioner that the state government started changing its stand after a new government was formed in December, 2007.
“Governance is a continuous process. There should be certainty and consistency in the policy matters taken by the state government,” the judge remarked.
Himalayan Ski Village Timeline
March 19, 2004; Himlayan Ski Village, a $ 350 million tourism project backed by Alfred Ford proposed.
The Himalayan Ski Village project proposes to construct 170 seven star rooms, 1000 four star rooms and 100 chalets on 93.1 hectares of land, of which 16.3 hectares was to be on government or forest lands near Palchan village of Manali.
Novermber 18, 2005; Himachal cabinet approves the HSV project
December 9, 2005; Memorandum of Understanding signed with Himachal Government.
February 2006; HSV project faces strong opposition in entire Kullu valley. A congregation of 164 deities (Kullu Devta’s) hold Jagti Pooch (assembly) to consider the HSV project and overwhelmingly is rejected by the oracles present at the assembly of deities.
June 5, 2006; Implementation agreement signed.
June 25, 2007; Detailed project report of HSV approved
2007: Two public interest litigations 892/2007 & 1237/2007 opposing the project filed before the Himachal High Court.
December 30, 2007; Congress government led by Virbhadra Singh loses the election and BJP led government under chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal assumes office.
April 9, 2008 and April 30, 2008; The two PIL are disposed off. The government lets the court know that it was reexamining the HSV project. .
June 6; 2009; A public hearing at the project site was conducted by the principal secretary tourism at which those present openly rejected the proposal for the HSV project.
December 4, 2009; Based on the report of the principal secretary tourism, the Himachal government cabinet decides to serve a cancellation notice for the controversial project on the promoters.
April 2010; HSV moves HP High Court and obtains a stay on the government move to cancel the project.
June 22, 2012; The High Court quashes the government cancellation notice