The famed houseboats of Kashmir are likely to become a rarity, if the government has its way.
Driving the first nail in their coffin, the government has decided to deregister around 40 damaged houseboats on the Jhelum river because they have become “dilapidated”. Ironically, in order to reduce their number, the government does not let the owners renovate the houseboats or construct new ones either. The number of houseboats should be regulated because they “pollute the water bodies”, it says.
In order to protest the deregistration move, as many as 800 shikharas held a rowing protest at Dal Lake, Nigeen Lake and the Jhelum on Monday. House Boat Owners Association chairman Azim Tuman (75) says, “The government prevents us from renovating the houseboats, and when they become dilapidated, it derecognises us. Ludicrous, but true.”
He rejects the government’s pollution claim.
“As much as 97% of pollution in the water bodies is because of sewage from the city,” he says.