Himachal Pradesh Infrastructure Development Board (HPIDB) has awarded the Rs 100-crore Kullu-Bijli Mahadev ropeway to Usha Breco after making major changes in the alignment and increasing the span from one to two kms.
Despite being considered one of the most commercially viable aerial ropeway projects in the state, the Himachal Pradesh Infrastructure Development Board had to make some major changes to make it attractive to investors. There has been no response to the Sarahan-Bashal Kanda aerial ropeway project in Shimla district so far.
Usha Breco had quoted a price of Rs 10.32 crore as bidding amount for the Kullu-Bijli Mahadev project. “They have been given one year’s time to obtain all clearances and two years construction time and a concession period of 40 years,” said sources. However, the cost of the ropeway has straightaway gone up from the earlier Rs 50 crore to Rs 100 crore as its span has now been doubled to two kms.
The Kullu-Bijli Mahadev ropeway project had been hanging fire for quite some time and on one occasion there was no bidder. The HPIDB changed the alignment of the ropeway and doubled its span from one to two kms to make it more viable. The ropeway will now take off from the Left Bank on the Kullu-Manali national highway instead of the earlier planned site near Pacho village, which was located on a link road.
The fact that the take off site was on a link road for which tourists would have had to travel for 18 kms to take the ropeway was a major deterrent which was proving to be the biggest deterrent.
Usha Breco has also been given permission to set up an eco-tourism site at the upper terminal of the ropeway so that the project becomes viable.
Usha Breco Company has already been awarded the 4.1-km Himani -Chamunda ropeway in Kangra and Tutikandi-Mall ropeway in Shimla. Similarly, TATA has signed agreement for other aerial ropeways, including 2.1-km span Dharamsala-McLeodganj in Kangra.
However, there has been no response from investors for the three ropeways from Toba to Naina Devi in Bilaspur (2.3 km), Shah-Talai to Deod Sidh (1.8 km) in Hamirpur and Dharamkot-Triund in Kangra. Despite having been advertised on four occasions, entrepreneurs have shown disinterest in these projects. The Tourism Department is examining the possibility of giving further relaxations so that investors come forward to take up these projects.