The Administrative Council (AC), which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, approved the roll-out of policy and guidelines for sustainable operation of houseboats in Dal and Nigeen lakes.
In a bid to preserve the marine eco-system of both the lakes, the new policy aims to regulate the functioning of houseboats moored in Dal and Nigeen lakes by adopting the models of sustainable and responsible tourism.
The policy envisages providing a pleasant experience to tourists and sustainable source of living to stakeholders while preserving the fragile ecosystem.
Keeping in view the carrying capacities, the Tourism Department has capped the number of houseboats in both lakes at 910. Under the new policy, the houseboats are required to be registered online subject to the fulfilment of various conservation parameters; within 30 days from the date notification of the policy.
The houseboats and associated structures are required to be fitted with bio-digesters for scientific treatment of solid/liquid waste as per the approved design of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, besides ensuring availability of adequate fire safety equipment along with trained staff to be verified by Fire & Emergency Services Department.
Further, the policy lays down regulations for ancillary facilities like kitchen, lodging, furniture, first-aid, electricity, power back-up, sanitary fittings and shikara for navigation. It also ensures availability of minimum basic facilities to the tourists to be categorised on the basis of different classes of houseboats.
The policy includes provisions for undertaking repairs on damaged, dilapidated and abandoned houseboats, and revival of cruise boats and donga cruise.
Moreover, the policy provides for constitution of an Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Director Tourism Kashmir to look into the conservation of the lakes in relation to the functioning of the houseboats while recommending measures to increase the tourist influx in a sustainable manner.
Additionally, a Regulatory Committee headed by Deputy Director, Tourism will also be constituted for ensuring compliance with the norms and procedures laid down in the policy.
The policy bridges the aspirations of all stakeholders while complying with the directions of the High Court in the matter.