SRI NAGAR: Houseboat owners in Kashmir have suffered losses of over Rs 100 crores since the scrapping of Article 370.
Kashmir Houseboat Owners Association president Hamid Wagnoo told this newspaper that there has been zero per cent occupancy in houseboats since August 5, the day the state’s special status was revoked.
There are about 947 houseboats across four major water bodies in Kashmir – Dal Lake, Chinar Bagh, Jehlum and Nageen lake.
Wagnoo said according to the report prepared by them, the houseboat owners have suffered over `105 crore losses since August 5.
He said every type of houseboat whether Deluxe (5-star) or A, B, C and D category have suffered losses.
“Our livelihood is dependent on tourists. And we continue to incur losses as tourists are not returning to the Valley,” he said.
Wagnoo said the houseboats, which are a major attraction for tourists in Srinagar, have to be repaired, renovated and maintained annually as it is a wooden structure liable to damage.
“We have to incur expenses on repairs, renovation and maintenance of the houseboats every year irrespective of the fact whether he has got good or bad tourist season,” he said.
The tourist footfall to Kashmir has dropped considerably ever since Article 370 was revoked.
The houseboat owners urged the administration of Lt Governor Girish Chander Murmu to bail them out from this crisis.
Another houseboat owner, Abdul Samad, said that his family’s and his brother's families entire livelihood is dependant on the revenue they receive from these houseboats.
“We don’t have any other means of income. We are three brothers and the livelihood of three families is dependent on our single houseboat. We have somehow managed to survive the last four months, but if things do not improve then we will be forced to sell our houseboat and look for other options,” he said.
Samad said that he and his brothers have to spend Rs 1 lakh on maintenance and repair of their houseboat every year and this year they had to take a loan to carry out the maintenance and repair works.