Taken for a (boat) ride?

IRFAN MEHRAJ

Srinagar: Boatmen living along the banks of Jehlum river near Rajbagh have accused the authorities of delaying compensation for boats used by police for rescue operations during the 2014 floods.
“Thirty of our boats were used by police during the floods. Eight of them were totally damaged,” Ghulam Mohammad Ghuroo, a boatman, told Kashmir Reader.
Ghuroo said that several police officials approached them for boats on September 7, 2014, when flood waters breached the Jehlum embankments in the city.
“We willingly gave them our boats and were assured that we would be paid the adequate compensation and also the amount for the number of days the boats would be used,” another boatman Mohammad Hussain Shora said.
Shora said that thirty of their boats were used from September 7 to September 27. “Ferrying people on boats is our only livelihood. But with several of our boats damaged, we are left with no livelihood,” Shora said
“The Rajbagh Ghat is the oldest ghat on the river. At least 30 families here sustain on ferrying people on boats across the river,” Shora said.
He said they had visited DC Office Srinagar several times regarding the matter but to no avail
“We submitted an application to DC Office Srinagar, got it cleared from several other officers there, but they keep telling us that the authorizing letter has not reached them. It’s been several months now,” Shora said.
The total cost of the damage to eight boats roughly amounts to six lakh rupees, he said.
“On a normal day the tourist rate for a one hour shikara ride is 400 rupees. But we gave our boats on the agreed sum of 1000 rupees a day. But the authorities have not paid a single penny so far, neither have they paid for the damaged boats,” said Mohammad Sultan Kaloo.
Outgoing Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Farooq Shah told Kashmir Reader that boats were primarily taken from Boat Association Nehru Park.
“The claim that boats were taken from Rajbagh Ghat needs to be verified first. They had come to us but we need to properly verify how many boats were used and how many were damaged. Only then can we release the sum,” Shah told Kashmir Reader.