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Sagar rues government apathy towards house boat owners

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‘Dock-yards meant for yearly repairs of house boats hasn’t been made fully functional’

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Tuesday rued the government apathy towards house boats and Donga owners saying the administration is awaiting disaster by not ensuring swift repairs of the dilapidated house boats.

Expressing concern over the plight of house boats dwellers and owners, party’s general secretary Ali Muhammad Sagar said that he has been contacted by various house boat dwellers, which he said are living on shore on rent due to the dilapidating condition of their house boats. “I have been told that various house boats in Dal, Nigeen and the main Course of Jhelum are in decrepit condition awaiting disaster.  The owners are not in a condition to do the necessary repairs due to unavailability of resources. On the other hand the absence of a major dock yard where houseboats should have ideally gone through yearly repairs and checks, has also added to the woes of houseboats owners. The families who own such houseboats, dongas are facing penury due to the hit taken by the tourism sector since 2019. The two successive lockdowns have compounded their woes. Let alone paying for repairs, the families are not able to submit monthly electricity and water bills. These families used to eke out their living from tourism but because of the ongoing slump the affected families aren’t able to have a decent square meal. Most of the families whose dongas and house boats have sunk or are on the brink of it are living in hutments or in rented accommodations. So far the administration hasn’t come to their rescue. The families have now taken to menial jobs,” he said.

Asking the administration to come to the rescue of such donga and house boats dwellers and owners, Sagar said the house boats need yearly repairs and would cost thousands of rupees. “The process besides caulking involves other repairs which are necessary to ensure that the house boats remain afloat, however the families aren’t in a condition to do this time. Therefore it is the duty of administration to undertake the process in order to avoid any misfortune,” he said.

He stated the much touted dock-yard facility commissioned by the government   for the facilitation of yearly repairs for house boats hasn’t been made fully functional. “The house boats haven’t benefited from such initiative on account of the administrative inertia and lack of resources. The need of the hour is to make such a facility functional. In wake of the penury, the house boats owners are going through, the government should come up with a target group package for house boats and donga owners.  I impress on the divisional administration to take cognizance of the matter and come up with a major repair and reconstruction package for house boats and dongas without any holdup. On a short term basis, until the repairs are done, the families whose house boats are defunct or have capsized should be given free monthly ration and adequate recompense for their losses,” he said.

Meanwhile, according to the party spokesperson, Party President and Member of Parliament Dr. Farooq Abdullah will take the matter in the Parliament also and seek the attention of the government towards the plight of people associated with the tourism sector in Kashmir.

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