08/22/2005, 00.00
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Himalayan Tourist village to be built soon

Alfred Ford is planning to build a US$ 300 million ski resort in the Dhauladhar ranges by 2009.

New Delhi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Alfred Brush Ford, 55-year-old great grandson of Henry Ford, has decided to invest some US$ 300 million to build a ski resort in the north-western Indian state Himachal Pradesh, in the middle of the Himalayas.

The company set up for the purpose—Himalayan Sky Village (HSV) —will develop the ski resort in the city of Manali. The project will include gondola ski-lifts, a 600-room five-star hotel, 300 chalets and a convention centre. The resort's "Indianness" will be assured by a handicraft village and a sanatorium that will cater to India's 'hospital tourism'.

The company wants to start construction in 206 and complete the first phase by 2009. Afterwards, India can become a legitimate candidate for the Winter Games, John Sims, HSV's Managing Director, said.

Brush Ford's interest for India is not new. He is married to Sharmila Bhattacharya, a medical researcher for the Indian government, and has been a Hare Khishna devotee for more than 30 years. He is not involvement in the management of the Ford car company, but has invested inan internet software company.

Last year, he offered to build a spiritual tourist resort near the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in Mayapur (West Bengal), 140 kilometres north of Kolkata, but the state's Chief Minister, Buddhadeb Bhattacharya, refused to let him use the land and even meet him.

Ford has instead received the full support of Himachal Pradesh authorities for his ski resort and has already ordered an environmental impact study for the area before construction begins.

Until now, the state was known only for drug trafficking and for giving asylum to the Dalai lama and the Tibetan government in exile.

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