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Himalayan Ski Village Project May Finally Take Off

High Court gives nod to project with a rider


29 June 2012

The controversial Himalayan Ski Village may finally take off with the High Court giving its nod to the project albeit with a rider that the company will have to obtain environment clearance from the authorities concerned within a period of six months.

In a scathing observation against the government, the court stated that “it is duly established from the record that the state government had already made up its mind to cancel the project and the issuance of a notice based on the recommendations of a committee was merely a ritual.The notice issued by the state to the company on January 7, 2010, is without jurisdiction and authority of law”.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by the company challenging the show-cause notice issued by the state for cancellation of the agreement signed with the firm for the proposed Rs 1,581-crore project to be set up near Manali. The company alleged that it was a “mala fide stance” and not in accordance with the agreement signed with the company on December 9, 2005. It had submitted the letter of intent to the state on March 19, 2004, and the preliminary project report was approved by the Cabinet on November 18, 2005. The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the parties on December 9, 2005.

Further, the implementation agreement (IA) was executed on June 5, 2006, and the detailed project report was approved by the Cabinet on June 5, 2007. The company also submitted the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and the Environment Management Plan (EMP) to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The company maintained that the government had changed its stand after the BJP came to power in December 2007. Thereafter, the state issued a show-cause notice on January 7, 2010, which was challenged on the ground that the state had already signed an MoU and IA and submitted the DPR. It contended that the decision to issue a show-cause notice was unilateral, while the state asserted that the company had not obtained environmental clearance after submitting the EIA and the EMP to the authority.

While allowing the petition, Justice Rajiv Sharma observed: “Governance is a continuous process. There should be certainty and consistency in policy matters taken by the government. In the instant case, the overall cost of the project is Rs 1,581.10 crore and the project will be spread over 93.1 hectares. The state has already accepted Rs 75 lakh from the company. The decision of one government relating to governance of a state or its execution would bind the successor government when it does not involve any political philosophy and the successor government must complete the unfinished job.”

While quashing the notice issued by the state, the court directed the company to obtain the necessary clearances, including environmental clearance, from the authorities concerned within a period of six months.