Tourism Dept threatens houseboat owners

Houseboats which have been issued notice.
Houseboats which have been issued notice.

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, July 26: Tourism Department has issued a threatening letter to the houseboat owners asking them to clear the debris of the damaged or non-functional houseboats, failing which the charges of clearance will be recovered from them.
Deputy Director Registration, Department of Tourism in a letter has said that he has got the powers to remove the damaged houseboats and realize the costs from the owners.
“As per the powers vested in me under relevant provisions of the Tourist Trade Act 1978, by virtue of this notice, you are hereby advised to remove the debris/wreckage of the houseboat within 15 days from the date of issuance of this notice failing which same shall be removed by this department and cost on this account shall be charged and recovered from you as arrears of Land Revenue,” the letter reads.
The letter also informs the owner that during a joint survey conducted the said houseboat was found submerged and abandoned and that the unit must be functional and fit for use by tourists with allied facilities in place.
Houseboat owners faced extreme hardship post-1990 however due to the inherent culture of this traditional craft symbolic to a community tried their best to keep these boats afloat. “Single-handedly, we somehow managed to keep things going and had to work very hard to revive the tourism of Kashmir in entirety, but it is evident that a war has been waged against the community and houseboats post 1998,” they added.
They said that instead of helping the houseboat owner to re-construct his houseboat the Government is threatening him. “On one hand we are facing a big challenge to keep our houseboats afloat as the tourism industry has suffered badly and on the other hand they are threatening us”, said a houseboat owner.
“Govt. of India has been sending money to this department but never checked that people affiliated with tourism are getting benefitted except a few blue-eyed. Any tourism authority is bound to ensure the well being of all constituents of tourism. In our case, they have crafted policies which have been ever detrimental to the community and the trade,” they said.