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Himachal Ski Village project `makes some progress'

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The Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, flanked by Mr G.S. Bali, Minister for Tourism, and Mr Kuldeep Kumar, Minister for Industries, at a press conference in Chennai on Tuesday. — Bijoy Ghosh

Chennai , June 14

HIMACHAL Ski Village, the tourism project of Alfred Ford, great grandson of Henry Ford, has achieved some progress with the Himachal Pradesh Government giving the critical `Section 118 clearance' for setting up 300 cottages.

The section of the Himachal Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, bars `transfer of land to non agriculturists'.

According to the State Tourism Minister, Mr G.S. Bali, the project's promoters have now set about doing the `detailed feasibility report', which he expected to get over in three months.

Mr Bali said at a press conference held here today by the State's Chief Minister Mr Virbhadra Singh, that the investment in the project was Rs 5,000 crore, of which Rs 2,000 crore would happen in the initial phase. However, earlier media reports, quoting the Managing Director of Himachal Ski Village Ltd, Mr John Robert Sim, have spoken of an investment of $250 million (Rs 1,150 crore).

The MoU for the project was signed between the promoters and the State Government last month. The Section 118 clearance marks the crossing of a bureaucratic hurdle in the path of the project's progress.

It is learnt that the project, located at an altitude of 8,500 above sea level in the Kullu valley will feature hotels, parks, malls, ski slopes and possibly an airport.

Mr Virbhadra Singh was here today to drum up investments for the State. He met members of the Confederation of Indian Industry.

Later, addressing the media, Mr Singh said that many industrialists had shown interest in setting up units in the State. While there are a number of special incentives (such as an excise holiday) given by the Union Government for Himachal Pradesh (as well as Uttaranchal and Jammu & Kashmir), the incentives were not the only reason for industrialist to choose to invest in HP, Mr Singh said. He observed that the State had abundant water resources and peaceful industrial climate.

It was noted that among the new investment proposals the State had received was one from TVS Motor for setting up a unit in the State and another from the Lanco group of Hyderabad to set up two mini hydel power projects for Rs 185 crore.

Earlier, the Chief Minister told the CII members that the procedure for setting up of new units in the State had been made the simplest and the entrepreneurs get all clearance for setting up of their units under one umbrella.

"To ensure easy and expeditious clearances, a Monitoring Authority headed by the Chief Minister which meets frequently and clear the projects besides monitoring and reviewing the progress made with regard to setting up the units cleared by it earlier and solve problems, if any," a press release from CII quotes Mr Virbhadra Singh.

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