Shimla: Environmental concerns, opposition by locals and politicians may have stalled the Himalayan Ski Village (HSV) project for a decade but promoter John Sims still hopes that it will see the light of day saying that the country’s largest FDI tourism project was ‘destroyed for the wrong reasons’.
In response to a Hill Post query, Sims, MD of HSV on email responded with, “The Himalayan Ski Village was accused of being an example for all that is wrong with Indian development today, environmental disregard, community/cultural destruction and government influence.”
He adds that “HSV was none of these things, in fact, it was actually the opposite, thus it was destroyed for the wrong reasons.
“It is example of the leaders of HP using the politics of negativity to further their own silly image at the expense of the people they claim to serve,” he said.
In response to Virbhadra Singh led congress government again showing interest in the multi-million dollar tourism project and backing it with withdrawing an opposing petition from the courts, Sims says, “Of course, we continue to hope the ski village will find a way forward, but this has to be judged on rational grounds and I suspect it will take us another six months to properly evaluate our options.”
Mentioning about taking the local community along on the project, he added, “but the BJP continues to threaten us with opposition. It seems they only support selective developers, who wish to do the same things we proposed; ropeway and hotels.”
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 PILs 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: HP High Court Judge quashes the government cancellation notice
August 2012: Himachal Government appeals before double bench of High Court
December 2012: Dhumal led BJP government loses power, Congress wins and elects Virbhadra Singh as chief minister.
May 2013: Congress government withdraws HSV case from HP High Court.