Srinagar (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], May 21 (ANI): A new policy that permits houseboats in Jammu and Kashmir to undergo renovation has become a ray of hope for the tourism industry in the region.
Considering the importance of the houseboats, Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha announced a new policy aimed to preserve the houseboats which has given smile on the faces of houseboat owners.
The comprehensive policy solves various problems faced by the dwellers living in these houseboats stationed at the famous Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake.
It also gives the Tourism Department a shining hope to boost the influx of people from across the world for sightseeing and experiencing rich heritage of Jammu and Kashmir. Also, houseboat owners at Dal Lake are happy with the administration's preservation policy.
In recent years, the houseboats were damaged due to floods, fire and other incidents which resulted in reduction of the number of these beautiful boats.
Recollecting the time when some tourists visited the lake for getting the experience of living in houseboat, Muhammad Yusuf, a houseboat owner said, "Earlier, when we did not have the permission to repair or paint the boat, the tourist used to complain about the furnishings of the houseboat."
However, he hopes that the new policy will benefit their business.
Houseboats have served as the star attraction in Jammu and Kashmir over the years. There are several hundreds of colourful houseboats moored on Srinagar's Dal and Nigeen lakes.
Divya, a tourist in the valley, sees houseboats as a unique feature that defines the union territory.
"It is very important that these houseboats are preserved. They add a charm to Kashmir's tourism when compared to the rest of the states, UTs in India," she said.
Tariq Ahmad Patloo, another houseboat owner, described his past struggle to get approval for renovation.
"We have been demanding the administration for a one-door policy for the past 20-25 years. From one office to the other, we had to keep seeking permission but were mostly unsuccessful even after trying for six-seven years. This is why we are considering this step taken by the administration as a great initiative," he said.
Currently, there are around 928 houseboats in the two lakes in Srinagar, informed Director Tourism Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Itoo.
"It is now mandatory for the committees, which is set to look after this initiative, to meet every three months and review the applications for the renovation of the houseboats," said the Director of Tourism.
Houseboats owners can also submit applications on an online portal. (ANI)