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No entry fee allowed: Malam Jabba ski resort closed after court order

ISLAMABAD: The management of the Malam Jabba ski resort has closed the picturesque tourist place for the general public, after the Samsons Group of Companies was restrained from charging entry fees, which were deemed to be a tax.

Sharing reason for closure of Malam Jabba ski resort, Mohammad Tahir Qasimka, the legal advisor for the company informed the media here on Saturday that the resort was closed after a Peshawar High Court’s Mingora Bench ordered the company not to charge the entry fee to the resort which was a major source of revenue for the company.

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Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis Syed Zuliqar Bukhari said in a tweet, “Unfortunate to see one of our best resorts close down at the peak of tourism season. This upsets many people’s plans just days away from Ramazan.”

The legal advisor said the company had invested over Rs 300 crore in the area to benefit the locals and provide top of the line chairlift, zipline, and skiing facilities to tourists, and helped arrange many national and international events there.

Hundreds of locals of the area also recently stormed the place and threatened the company’s management to leave the area, he said, adding that the company’s business would not remain profitable after a ban on the entry fee.

Legal advisor alleged that the Forest department officials, equipped with weapons, have been harassing the company for the last three years.

He also stated that some miscreants in the area were using different tactics to pressurize the company to wind up its billions of rupees investment from the area.

The advisor said that under clause 18 of the lease agreement the government had allowed the company to charge the entry fee to the resort which the court had now banned on a writ petition filed by the local lawyers.

The company is now requesting the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government through a letter to fulfill its lease agreement conditions and commitments as the company was paying around Rs20 million to the government in annual fee.

At least 500 people are direct employees of the company working at the resort and their jobs are now on the line as the company has closed the place.

After years of closure during the Taliban regime, the company had restored the tourism activities in the area in 2014 through investment of billions of rupees on installation of the chairlift, Pakistan’s longest zip line, skiing slopes, flowers, trees and construction of all other necessary facilities like toilets for the tourists and public.

TMO Charbagh had informed the court that Samson’s Company was charging this amount prior to the lease agreement in 2014, Mohammad Tahir Qasimka added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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