Jammu and Kashmir High Court directs realignment of houseboats
Houseboat owners in Srinagar are demanding a rehabilitation package in wake of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court calling for a realignment of over 320 houseboats that ply on the world famous Dal Lake.
According to the court, owners have been asked to shift their houseboats 300-feet away from the parapet wall of Dal Lake between November 5 and 9 to allow realignment to begin after that period.
The state's Tourism and Culture Minister, Nawang Rigzin Jora, said the realignment process would hopefully restore the glory of Dal Lake.
"I would be happy if they (houseboat owners) do it, because then, the lake (Dal Lake) would look much better. Right now, houseboats have covered most of the lake and we have widened the area of the lake.
If we have to do this, then the houseboat owners have to move backwards so that they are provided with proper sewage facilities. I support their rehabilitation. I support them fully. They should be properly rehabilitated," said Jora.
One of the dwellers, Fayaz Ahmad, welcomed the court's order, but pressed for rehabilitation.
"We welcome the High Court's order as it is beneficial for the houseboats also. The problem is that our residence is behind the houseboats and we have to think about our small children and parents. We have to think about their rehabilitation. We are not against the High Court's order of realignment but we demand rehabilitation so that our families get a place to stay," said Ahmad.
The court has also directed the state government to file a report on the rehabilitation of the dwellers and to complete the construction of two Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) at Brari Numbal and Nuallah Amir Khan and upgrade three others.
Another houseboat owner, Tariq Ahmad Patloo, said: "We want that realignment should take place but the main issue is of rehabilitation. No one will be ready to destroy his or her house. The winter is also arriving and this happens every time. They have to think first about the rehabilitation."
Houseboats are considered to be par of the heritage of Kashmir and identity of renowned Dal Lake that attracts lakhs of tourists every year but unfortunately all the dwellers are worried due to the shifting process of the houseboats.