Defer new tourism guidelines for houseboat owners: JKAP
Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) senior leader Muhammad Dilawar Mir on Wednesday urged the J&K government to defer formulation and issuance of new guidelines regulating the tourism trade for houseboat owners in Kashmir till COVID19 lockdown was over.
In a statement, Mir said the new guidelines put in public domain by the government on functioning of houseboats in Dal and Nigeen Lakes, Chinar Bagh and river Jhelum in Srinagar were not in sync with the demands and aspirations of the houseboat owners who are already facing immense problems due to law and order situation and COVID19 pandemic.
The JKAP leader observed that most of the houseboat owners in Kashmir were not in a position to respond to the government appeal for submitting their feedback and suggestions with regard to the new guidelines in the prevailing circumstances through online mode.
He said the submission of a final reply will require a general body meeting of all members of the houseboat association, Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association, consisting of approximately 1,000 members and holding such a meeting at this juncture will go against Covid19 protocol.
"The government must understand difficulties faced by most of the traditional houseboat owners who are not well versed with the use of internet facility that too when the mobile internet speed is dismal in Kashmir. Unless all the stakeholders are not taken on board, the new guidelines which are harsher in tone and tenor can prove detrimental to Kashmir's historic houseboat trade," Mir said.
He said there were a number of clauses in the new guidelines including renewal of licenses, realignment of houseboats, removal of structures, sanitation and regulatory mechanism which were totally against the interest of houseboat owners and even violate their basic and fundamental rights guaranteed under law.
"Kashmir houseboats represent a mosaic of culture and hospitality of Kashmiris acclaimed by the whole world. The houseboat owners are not averse to preservation of lakes and waterways besides reducing pollution. But the government must not push them to the wall by enforcing a set of guidelines which are bound to destroy this age old business," Mir said.
He said besides representing Kashmir's cultural, the houseboat business was a source of employment generation providing a source of livelihood to lakhs of people who were directly or indirectly connected with this trade.
Mir said till all the stakeholders were not consulted and taken on board for formulation of new rules, the government must continue with the guidelines of Tourist Trade Act-1979 which was already in vogue in Kashmir.
He demanded that issuance of new guidelines should be deferred till the COVID19 lockdown was over.