DEHRADUN: Disastrous rains apart from engulfing 79 lives and wrecking havoc on infrastructure last month have left boat makers, boatmen of Naini Lake in Nainital town and high and dry.
Forty per cent of total boats have suffered damages. Though not completely shattered, the damages have forced the boatmen to repair the boats to be prepared for tourist season post Diwali.
Narendra Singh Chauhan, secretary of Boat Association whose boat was also damaged, says, “My boat is almost 50% damaged which is being repaired. Similarly, around 40% boats have been damaged requiring repair work. This is like extra burden on us. It is taking time and money. We would have earned a substantial amount if these rains hadn’t hit us so bad.”
With disastrous rains last month wrecking havoc claiming 79 lives across Uttarakhand, Nainital district was worst hit with 35 deaths and a trail of destruction of roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
At present, a total of 222 four-seater rowing boats are allowed in the Naini Lake along with 90 paddle boats and 10 yachts of the Nainital Yacht Club.
The boatmen have to pay Rs 700 as the renewal fee for their license every year. A boatman earns around
Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000, if the tourist season is a good one.
“The pandemic had already engulfed last two peak summer tourist seasons. We were hoping some good business post rainy season. But these rains not only blocked tourism, but inflicted damages on our boats,” says Deepak Kumar (41) who has been rowing boats for over 26 years in the Naini Lake.
A boat deployed in the lake is assembled using five different parts made from Sheesham (Dalbergia sissoo), Toona (Toona ciliata) and Pine tree wood which takes a skilled craftsman along with two helpers at least a month.
After assembling the parts using copper nails and rings, the boat is polished with Flaxseed oil. Later, waterproofing is done using warmish of a good brand. In the final touch, seats and ornamental parts are installed to get it sailing.
At present, a total of 222 four-seater rowing boats are allowed in Naini Lake along with 90 paddle boats and 10 yachts of Nainital Yacht Club. A boatman earns around Rs 35,000-Rs 40,000.