Shimla, April 10 (IANS) If a steep hike to the historical Jakhu temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman in this Himachal Pradesh tourist resort is a little too arduous for you, no need to be huffing and puffing now.
A private company on Monday started an aerial ropeway, linking Shimla’s Ridge with the Hanuman temple in Jakhu hills.
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh inaugurated the ropeway project that was completed with an outlay of Rs 40 crore.
Its foundation stone was laid way back in July 2007 but owing to certain environmental considerations and lack of forest clearances, the project got delayed.
Constructed by Jagson International Ltd, the ropeway would facilitate the visitors to reach the famous Hanuman temple in five minutes or so.
It was commissioned under the public-private-partnership mode. As per the agreement, the company would give Rs 57 lakh as dividend to the state Tourism Department in its first year. Thereafter, every year it will give 15 per cent of its income to the state.
“It’s my dream project that is one of its kinds in the state. It would further give boost to the tourism industry,” the Chief Minister was quoted as saying in an official statement.
The project was mired in controversy a number of times over environment laws violations.
The government, acting on the directions of the district courts, asked the company in 2008 to stop the construction till preventive measures are taken to protect the trees and the houses that fell in the vicinity of the ropeway construction.
The company was also directed to remove the heavy earth-moving machines from the site as these were triggering landslides.
The state government had approved the ropeway project despite the fact that the area fell in the no-construction green zone.
In 2011, the Himachal Pradesh High Court restrained the company from carrying out any further activity on construction of the ropeway tower, taking a serious view of environmental violations in the project.
Acting on a public interest litigation highlighting the alleged violation of the sanctioned plans and construction norms in the green zone, a division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Rajiv Sharma said: “Officials of the state government seem to be more interested in protecting the interests of Jagson Ropeways rather than the environment of the area.”
“If the court does not intervene, they will permit this Tower of Babel to increase in height day by day,” they had observed.