//It's God vs man over ski resort

It's God vs man over ski resort

Jyoti Kamal, CNN-IBN, Updated 0911 hrs IST (+GMT 5:30), 18.02.06
Kullu: A war between man and God is shaking up Himachal’s Kullu valley, and, the Jagati Patt temple in Naggar district, is the centre of hectic and rather unique action.

Oracles of more than a 100 gods gathered here on Friday to decide whether a half-billion dollar ski village should be set up on the higher reaches between Kullu and Manali.

The Oracles went into a trance and gave their decisions to Raja Maheshwar Singh, the scion of the erstwhile ruling family of Kullu and a former BJP MP.

"Gods had moved from the plains to the mountains and now such decisions of setting up a Ski Village would leave them with no abode. The Gods have said a clear no to the project," Singh said.

But the alleged divine intervention has been contested by officials from the ski village who hope to appeal against the Gods’ decision.

“We respect the deities too. But we will go ahead with the project and will consult our deities,” Member, local advisory board, Himalayan Ski Village, Iqbal Sharma said.

However, the officals may not get a lot of support from the locals who are clear about whose side they’re on.

Most residents of the village are against the idea of the ski camps and believe that the Gods’ abodes should not be disturbed.

The ambitious $520 million ski village project planned by millionaire Amrican industrialist Albert Ford has been mired with controversy ever since it was proposed.

A majority of oracles feared that the ski village would pollute the local culture and sacred spots on hill tops which belong to deities.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has opposed the project declaring that it was against the state’s interests and the deal with the company was not clear.

But the ruling Congress has gone ahead with the project by clearing the preliminary project report (PPR), although it has not provided exclusive rights to the company.

The state government has already asked the company to submit a detailed project report (DPR), which is likely to be cleared by March this year. If cleared, work is likely to begin later this year and will take three years to complete.

If the project goes ahead, the entire village will be acquired from local villagers to build 700 five star rooms, 300 Swiss villas and 2,420 food court-type restaurant seats and a handicrafts village, besides the ski slopes, say company officials.

The base car parking will hold some 1,000 vehicles, and a high-tech gondola, which will ferry 500 passengers every hour to an altitude of 14,000 ft above sea level.

In October last year Alfred Ford visited the proposed ski village site near the popular resort town of Manali and met top officials in Shimla to draw up the project that he said would exponentially increase the employment potential to locals and have a ripple effect on the state’s economy through tourism.