Govt decides to expand houseboat industry in Kashmir

SRINAGAR — In the tourism industry, houseboats and Shikaras have their own importance and identity as domestic and foreign tourists spend a few moments of leisure in these houseboats in Dal Lake after visiting the Kashmir Valley and then freshen up and return to the Shikaras.

They can take a ride and enjoy the views of Dal Lake, Nagin or the Jhelum River.

However, in view of the unfavourable situation in the past, the government has decided to take new measures to compensate for the damage caused to these houseboats and to expand this industry.

It is worthy of consideration that last month Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha assured during the administrative council meeting that Houseboats and Shikaras are unique features of Kashmir and all facilities will be provided to them.

In the administrative council, the proposal of the tourism department to provide wood at discounted rates for the repair and maintenance of houseboats and also to start Shikara taxis was approved. This has given great relief to the houseboat owners and Shikara of Jammu and Kashmir.

Rajiv Bhatnagar, advisor to the lieutenant governor, Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta and Principal Secretary to Lt. Governor shared this decision for minor, periodic repairs and maintenance and upkeep of houseboats registered with the Forest Department at a maximum of 70 per cent requirement at a subsidised rate of 50 per cent. Up to or 30 cubic feet of wood whichever is less will be provided. Wood will be provided to the beneficiaries once in 6 years.

Similarly, for reconstruction and repair of houseboats, up to a maximum of 70 per cent of the requirement or 80 cubic feet, whichever is less, wood will be provided on a one-time basis at a discounted rate of 50 per cent.

In the case of registered Shikara Taxis, wood will be supplied from time to time for repair and maintenance at 50 per cent subsidised rates up to a maximum of 70 per cent requirement or 15 cubic feet whichever is less once in five years.

Eligible houseboat owners and Shikara will be referred to the Director of Tourism Kashmir for further distribution of a required quantity of wood from J&K Forest Development Corporation Limited. — (ANI)