JK Govt restricts number of houseboats in Dal, Nigeen at 910 as part of its new policy

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Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday rolled out a policy for the sustainable operation of houseboats in Dal and Nigeen lakes, restricting their number at both the places at 910.

Pointing out that this came at a meeting of the Administrative Council chaired by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, an official statement here said that the policy, in a bid to preserve the marine eco-system of both the lakes, aims at regulating the functioning of houseboats moored in Dal and Nigeen lakes by adopting the models of sustainable and responsible tourism. The policy also envisages providing a pleasant experience to tourists and sustainable source of living to stakeholders while preserving the fragile ecosystem, it added. 

The Tourism Department has capped the number of houseboats in both lakes at 910 keeping in view their carrying capacity, it said, adding that the houseboats under the new policy are required to be registered online subject to the fulfilment of various conservation parameters within 30 days from the date notification of the policy.

The houseboats and associated structures are required to be fitted with bio-digesters for scientific treatment of solid/liquid waste as per the approved design of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, besides ensuring availability of adequate fire safety equipment along with trained staff to be verified by Fire & Emergency Services Department.

Further, the policy lays down regulations for ancillary facilities like kitchen, lodging, furniture, first-aid, electricity, power back-up, sanitary fittings and shikara for navigation. It also ensures availability of minimum basic facilities to the tourists to be categorised on the basis of different classes of houseboats.

The policy includes provisions for undertaking repairs on damaged, dilapidated and abandoned houseboats, and revival of cruise boats and donga cruise.

Moreover, the policy provides for constitution of an Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Director Tourism Kashmir to look into the conservation of the lakes in relation to the functioning of the houseboats while recommending measures to increase the tourist influx in a sustainable manner.

Additionally, a Regulatory Committee headed by Deputy Director, Tourism will also be constituted for ensuring compliance with the norms and procedures laid down in the policy.

The policy bridges the aspirations of all stakeholders while complying with the directions of the High Court in the matter, the statement added.