October 2, 2020

Houseboats in Kashmir on the extremity of tribulation, Housboat sector frazzled with hopelessness: Yaqoob Dunoo

‘Scrap Rs 1000/- financial assistance, sanction exclusive financial package’

Srinagar: Spokesperson of Kashmir Houseboat owners Association, Muhammad Yakub Dunoo on Thursday said that apart from European countries, tourists from UK, USA, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada and Australia used to enjoy the beauty of Kashmir but now the situation has been completely changed as hotel rooms are empty and there are no tourists in houseboats in the famous Dal Lake.
In a statement issued here on Thursday Dunoo said “Kashmir has been completely devastated since August 2019 and tourism industry especially Houseboats are showing a huge decline in due to Aborgation of Article 370 and 35A”. Reminding that J & K state which is now union territory is a land where many astounding locations exist, Dunoo said “it’s diversified weather, magnificent meadows and stupendous valleys have always been a great attraction for tourists around the globe especially the most lucrative tourist resort houseboats which attracts the enchantment of tourists all over the world and plays weighty role in reviving economic activties which fills the economic needs of the people”.
Recalling that once Kashmir tourism industry was at its peak and both domestic and foreigners used to visit serene places in Kashmir , Dunoo said “routine shutdowns, and lockdowns after Abrogation of article and pandemic outbreak have hit the tourism industry badly” pointing out that tourists do not want to visit lush valleys at the cost of their lives. “They have stopped visiting Kashmir . The Government must pay heed to the severity of issue and deal the matter with iron hands”, reads the statement issued by Dunoo on behalf of “Kashmir House Boat Owners Association”, adding that “a safe environment must be ensured in order to attract globetrotters again. This can once again help flourish the economy of Kashmir”.
Pointing out that it was very unfortunate that fifth houseboat has been sunk causing mayhem among possessors of Houseboats, Dunoo said “ it was the salutary luck that natives near by it saved their precious lives and possessions”, adding that “Rs 1000 per Houseboat possessor sanctioned by the central government is a mere slap on the faces of houseboat possessors”. Clarifying that house boat possessors have denied to take petty amount as financial relief as it is just like to put petrol on burning fire , Dunoo said “ due to decline of tourists these victims are not in a position to afford expenditure required for caulking which costs Rs. 50,000 per Houseboat”.
Observing that the owners of houseboats are facing great trouble and they see no ray of hope for them in the current phase of financial crisis, the spokesman of Kashmir Houseboat Owners association Dunoo thanked former Directors of toursim Farooq Ahmed Shah and Mahmood Ahmad Shah for the uplifting the houseboats. “ During their tenure the tourism especially Houseboat sector has touched heights but today the situation of toursim sector is running in backward direction which has put the tourism sector in dark”, the statement issued by Dunoo reads .
Warning that celebrating world Toursim day and organising Shikara racing on Dal lake is not a solution to promote tourism in Kashmir, Dunoo said “it is just like beating drums to propagate false propganda on social media to gain publicity”. Reminding that the houseboat owners kept promoting Tourism in Kashmir even when the uncertainty was at it’s peak during 90’s, Dunoo said “the Houseboat owners keep the candle burning during the dark times but unfortunately the government of India has ignored them completely”. “ While on one hand Government is not serious to address the grivences of houseboat owners the Director Tourism, Nisar Ahmed Wani whoh broke the backbone of owners of the houseboats has said that the water level in Jhelum and lake are too low and there is least chance of sinking of houseboats and the said episode of the story was that the present Director of tourism was unaware about the actual figure of victims whose Houseboats had been sunk due to invigorating waves”, the statement issued by Dunoo said.
Reiterating his allegation that houseboat sector has been ignored and need of an hour is to sanction separate package for the rehabilitation of this sector, Dunoo said “majority of houseboat owners are suffering due to lockdown enforced after Aborgation of article 370 and pandemic outbreak”. Reminding that the house boat owner had also brought their grievances to the notice of previous governments too the spokesman of the houseboat owners association said “ we seek the direct intervention of Lt Governor for an exclusive financial package for the revival of the housboat sector and urge the union government to come with complete and comprehensive financial package for the upliftment of houseboat sector of Kashmir “. Reminding that to restart the lucrative industry which attracts the enchantment of tourists all over the world, Dunoo hoped that Lt Governor will take speedy action address the grievances of Houseboat Owners Assocation to save the most lucrative part of Kashmir tourism otherwise future generation will see houseboats only on text book, photos in the archived gallaries and videos on YouTube channel.

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