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40 Indians to train as ski instructors

These youngsters will leave Finland for a month's training in skiing, to get employed in a $300 million ski village, which will be developed by Henry Ford's great grandson.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2007 16:12 IST

Forty young Indians leave for Finland next month for advanced training as ski instructors ahead of being employed in a $300 million ski village American billionaire Alfred Ford is developing in Himachal Pradesh.

The youths, all from Himachal Pradesh, have already received three months' initial training here at a school run by Ford's Himalayan Ski Village (HSV) that is in the process of concluding an agreement with the state government for developing the resort.

"In Finland, these youngsters will be provided free training for a month by top notch instructors as also the best possible equipment like skis, boots," HSV managing director John Sims, a childhood buddy of Ford, told the media. Ford is the great grandson of legendary automaker Henry Ford.

"Our aim is to bring them up to international standards so they can be employed at the ski village once it is up and running," Sims added.

"This is the beginning of a vocational training scheme we hope will be the harbinger for the rest of India to follow," he said.

Apart from continuing the ski training, HSV also plans courses in areas like environment protection, catering and mountain rescue.

"The object is to bring prosperity to the villages around our resort. Therefore, we will pick youngsters only from the villages and not from the towns," Sims pointed out.

The HSV project itself is humming along nicely with construction likely to begin later this year after all clearances have been received, Sims said, adding the first skiing should begin late in 2009 or early in 2010.

Spread over a 100-hectare plot 9,000 feet above sea level, HSV will comprise 700-plus hotel rooms of four, five and seven star classes, 300 villas and 150 condominiums, apart from numerous shops, restaurants and luxurious spa facilities.

There will also be a 2,000-capacity convention centre, a handicrafts market to showcase the work of local artisans and a theatre complex.

Arrangements are being made at the base of the ski village to park 1,000 vehicles at any one time. From here, high-speed gondolas will ferry 500 passengers an hour to the resort and the ski slopes above at heights of 14,000 feet.

"The tourism department has cleared the project and the tourism secretary has now asked for some clarifications that we are happy to provide because we are glad the government is researching this project so well," Sims stated.

Once these clarifications are given and the report of the Bhopal-based Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) is received, the project will be considered by the Himachal Pradesh cabinet.

Thereafter, the Pollution Control Board will hold public hearings (PCB). HSV will then seek the final approval of the ministry of environment and forests.

"So you can see that this is perhaps the most closely examined project from the environmental point of view. These things take time and we are pleased with the pace of progress," Sims maintained.

The resort will provide direct employment to 3,000 people and to thousands more in the supply chain, promote ecologically sustainable practices and organic farming and, best of all, convert this popular hill station into a year-round destination, Sims said.

"What we are creating is a fully integrated resort of international class that is really unparalleled in Asia with ski slopes catering to both beginners and experienced sportspersons," he added.