The houseboat business in Srinagar, which was facing several problems during the past few years, has been further affected by the discharge of sewage into the Dal Lake and the effects of the COVID pandemic.
Tourism is a major source of livelihood in Jammu and Kashmir and when the Covid-19 pandemic hit tourism, the houseboat owners were further affected. But one positive thing is that tourists have started arriving now. The houseboat or Shikara owners are trying their best to provide good services so as to recover the earlier losses.
Another problem is that many houseboats were damaged due to floods and fire accidents. Some houseboats sank. At present only 928 houseboats are available in the two famous lakes, the Dal Lake and the Nigeen Lake. So the government recently announced a policy to preserve houseboats.
Shikara owner Mohamad Rafiq told ANI, “Owing to Covid, the situation had worsened, but now tourists are coming and we are also getting the houseboat repaired. The government has provided some help.”
On the issue of hygiene, Dr Bhagyashree, a tourist from Mumbai, said, “Hygiene is important on the boat. It has become even more important after the pandemic.”
Sewage of neighbouring areas is discharged into the lake which creates a further problem.
Another houseboat owner Tariq Ahmad said, “1,200 boats were registered here. But slowly the condition started deteriorating in 1989. We are still suffering.”
The Lakes Conservation Management Authority (LCMA) which is the new name of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) manages affairs here despite the difficult situation.
This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.
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