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Heavy rains wash away ski slopes in Uttarakhand

     Auli (Uttarakhand): Heavy and incessant rain washed away the ski slopes being prepared for the upcoming South Asian Winter Games at Auli in Uttarakhand. Work was in progress to complete preparations for the winter games due to be held in January 2010. Residents blame the government for a casual attitude and not using good material in making the slopes. "There is only one reason for the sweeping away of the slopes. The authorities dug up the natural slopes, and filled up the cracks and gaps between the slopes with ordinary soil without giving any strong support underneath. So, the soil swept away with the heavy rain," said Purshottam Semwal, a resident. The caving in of the slopes has deterred the construction work as the washed away earth has covered the entire sports venue and has spoiled adjoining areas. This has cast a doubt about the ability of the State Government to recreate the ski slopes and complete all the preparations for the upcoming game. "I knew that there won't be any snow here this time around. But when I came here, I saw the slopes were caved in. It is dangerous. It's doubtful whether the winter games could be held or not. It's a problem," said Devendra Joshi, a tourist from Gujarat. The games were already postponed to January 2010 from 2007-2008, as the State Government was not fully prepared for it. The latest calamity has further dented the preparations work. However, the state Tourism Minister is confident and says the games will be held in the scheduled time. "The Sports Secretary has ordered an enquiry into it. We will come to know what happened once the enquiry is completed. But there is no question of that the government is slack or delaying preparations for the winter games. The government is serious about it and is working at the war level. We are hopeful that all the preparations will be completed in time," said Madan Kaushik, Tourism Minister, Uttarakhand. As per the international standards, the sports authority in Auli still has to ready ski slopes of international standards, artificial snow making system, and vehicle parking facility among many other things. As winters are only a months away the construction work will further slow down with snowfall.
-August 24, 2009

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