Srinagar: Breakdown of Kashmir’s iconic houseboat community continues unabated as the ‘sinking’ tragedy once again struck the lockdown-hit tourism industry on Saturday — the day the valley witnessed a moderate snowfall.
Under the weight of the season’s fresh snowfall, three houseboats including Gulshan Palace, Kismat and New Dog Star sank in the middle of the Dal Lake, taking the overall toll of destroyed houseboats at 9 this year.
The fresh fallen houseboats belonged to Mohammed Sultan Badyari and Bashir Ahmed Kolu.
Earlier, on December 3, a residential houseboat named HB Prince met the same tragedy in river Jhelum.
“These three houseboats sank because of the snowfall,” Yakoob Dunno, spokesperson of Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association (KHBOA) told Kashmir Observer.
“Their pathetic conditions desperately needed repairs, but the ban on the house reconstruction and renovation has ended their fairytale forever now.”
Dunno said pleas of Kashmir’s houseboat community are repeatedly falling on deaf ears.
“The house is a wooden fringe unit which needs repairing, reconstruction and caulking from time to time,” Dunno said, “But it seems nobody is bothered about our concerns.”
With no business since last August, he said, the houseboat owners can’t effort caulking—an important procedure for the safeguard of houseboats. It costs around Rs 50,000 to each houseboat owner every year.
Earlier, Kashmir Observer reported how Amid Repair Ban and New Policy, Houseboats Are Sinking in Kashmir.
In the same report, Nazir Ahmad, Director Tourism, said the houseboat owners have to follow a proper procedure now.
“The court directed the department to frame a policy to reconstruct, repair, registration and renewal of houseboats,” he said.
“We comply with the orders and framed the same. However, it was unacceptable to houseboat owners as they maintained that they were not involved while framing the policy. Hence they challenged it.”
A new updated policy has now been submitted to the government for approval.
“In the name of repairing,” Director Tourism had said, “we won’t allow illegal constructions. Over 910 houseboats are registered with Tourism Department and all are in good condition.”
But Dunno said that over 200 houseboats are in urgent need of repairs.
“The government is disallowing reconstruction and repair of houseboats as the High Court believes these boats are a ‘major source’ of pollution,” Dunno said.
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