Manali: Hotel operators of Manali have opposed the Himachal government move to set up ski resorts and a ropeway to Rohtang Pass. ‘It will affect livelihoods’ they say.
Speaking against the governments intention of attracting investments to set up a ropeway to the popular pass, Anup Thakur, president Hotels Association of Kullu-Manali said to Hill Post, “Hotel owners Kullu-Manali will oppose any ski resort and ropeway project to Rohtang Pass. It directly impacts the business of the existing hotel industry and other stake holders of the valley. Besides hotels even the home stay owners will be affected.”
On July 11, in the presence of chief minister Jai Ram Thakur and industries minister Bikram Singh, the government at Delhi signed an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for an investment of Rs 1,000 crore with 3 leading companies for the tourism sector in the state.
A ropeway to Rohtang Pass is not a new proposal for the project has remained contentious for the last 5 years when the government first mooted it.
After the chief secretary of the state held a meeting with all the stakeholders, which did include representatives of Manali Hotels Association and others at Kunzam Hotel in Manali, the ropeway project proposal was dropped.
“We have to see the larger interest of the society and not pander to the interest of some individual,” says Anup Thakur. “There are very few among us who will oppose for the sake of opposing. We are not against setting up ropeways, but they should be constructed to reach virgin destinations which will open up new destinations in the valley,” he adds.
With Rohtang Pass attracting more tourists than the carrying capacity of its pristine 13050 feet high altitude environment, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had asked the state government to explore about connecting pass by cable car (Ropeway) so as to ease vehicular traffic on the route. Following the NGT order the the government in March 2017 announced plans for constructing a ropeway to Rohtang.
To cut the tourist traffic to the pass, NGT for the past 3 years has enforced limited vehicles to ply on the 50 Km Manali-Rohtang route. The vehicles allowed have to obtain a permit from the district administration authority.
The ropeway is proposed to be constructed in three stopovers. The first ropeway proposed is from Kothi to Gulaba, second from Gulaba to Marhi, and last one from Marhi to Rohtang Pass. The full ropeway project entails an investment of about Rs 400 crores.
Manali valley residents had earlier also vehemently opposed the setting up of a $ 350 million high end Himalayan Ski Village project, the MoU for which was signed on 9th December, 2005.