Wednesday, December 15, 2004
SHIMLA, INDIA — A scion of the Ford Motor family and financial contributor to the Hare Krishna sect is planning to set up a ski resort in northern India’s Himachal Pradesh state, a company official said this week.
“Alfred Ford, great grandson of Henry Ford, is keen to find a spot in the Himalayas to open a $250-million [all amounts in U.S. dollars] ski village,” the American firm’s managing director, John Robert Sim, said at the end of a three-day tourism conclave in Shimla, the state capital. “We are getting all the right signals from the state government and I am expected to meet Tourism Ministry officials in New Delhi before the deal is signed later this month,” Sim said.
Asked if the project was linked to Ford’s interest in the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, known as the Hare Krishna movement, he said: “This is a purely commercial venture.”
Alfred Ford joined the Krishna movement, named after one of the most popular gods of the Hindu pantheon, after he met its founder, Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, in 1975. Ford set up many Hare Krishna centres in the United States and in 2002 gave $10.2-million to a project in eastern India.
Indian Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhary noted Ford’s interest in Himachal Pradesh, which is home to some of the best mountain resorts in the country and gets many foreign visitors. “Among the serious investors, the most notable is that of Ford, which wants to build a ski village,” she said.
Of the spots already surveyed for the proposed resort, an area overlooking the popular Manali resort at 2,727 metres in altitude could be an ideal location, Sim said.
“Some 100 hectares would be needed to build hotels, parks, malls and even an airport in traditional Himalayan-style architecture. It will involve no displacement of people,” he said.