MINGORA: The Malam Jabba ski resort was closed by its management on Saturday attracting criticism from civil society and political activists.

In a news release, the Samson Group of Companies, which has the resort’s lease, said the Peshawar High Court’s Mingora Bench had declared the ski resort entry fee unlawful in its interim order and stopped its collection, so in the absence of the income generated by that fee, it was impossible for it to continue with activities, including chairlift, zip line and skiing, and pay salary and benefits to more than 500 staff members.

“We have no option but to close the resort till the company can decide on an alternative viable solution to run this business or a different outcome of the court proceedings. We regret any inconvenience to our patrons,” it.

The leaseholder said the resort directly employed over 500 people and indirectly benefited thousands of people, including locals and others involved in supplies of food, construction, hardware and steel materials, transport, carpentry, marketing, printing and others.

It said Clause 18 of the lease agreement signed with the government specifically gave it the right to charge an resort entry fee.

The Samson Group of Companies said it had invested around Rs300 crore on the insistence of the government and the business model of the resort was not commercially viable if such a fee was not charged.

During a hearing into a case on April 1, the Peshawar High Court, Mingora Bench (Darul Qaza), Swat, declared that it stopped the collection of the ski resort entry until the next hearing on April 21, 2021, as no lawful authority was identified for it.

Mingora-based civil society member Ihsan Ali said he thought that the matter should be resolved by the government and Samson Group of Companies immediately as the closure of cable car, zipline and other recreational activities would badly affect tourism.

MPA Azizullah Gran flayed the development and said ‘some elements’ wanted to cause detriment to tourist activities in Swat.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2021

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