Houseboat owners say must be taken on board for framing of a new policy

SRINAGAR: The representatives of the Houseboat owners expressed concern at the framing of the final draft of the policy without any discussions with the stakeholders who would be directly impacted by the implementation of the Policy.
This during a meeting convened by the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday with stakeholders for deliberating upon the Draft Policy/Guidelines for Houseboats in Dal/Nigeen Lakes. The meeting was chaired by Nasir Hamid Khan, Senior Vice President, KCC&I.
On behalf of the stakeholders Manzoor Ahmad Pakhtoon, Shamim Ahmad Shah, Yaseen Ahmad Tuman, Mohasin Fayaz Bhat, Mohammad Akram Siah, G.R. Siah, Ab. Majeed Khankashi, Abdul Rashid Kaloo and Showkat Ahmad Pakhtoon participated in the meeting.
The representatives said, whereas, the policy has been circulated amongst various Government Departments and also the Committee of Experts constituted by the Hon’ble High Court, the basic stakeholders have been denied an opportunity to incorporate their genuine concerns in the policy so far. It would have been highly appreciated if the Committee of Experts constituted by the Hon’ble High Court would have included representatives of various sections of the stakeholders whose lives and livelihood are dependent on the lakes. Now when the final draft has been notified in public domain, the stakeholders have also been asked to give their views and comments which have to be consistent with the directions of the Hon’ble High Court and ecological requirements of the lake, within a period of ten days.
As a consequence, the draft policy has many clauses which
adversely affect the hassle free registration and operation of the houseboats. Although in the aims and objectives of the policy the Government declares that it is to provide a sustainable source of living for the houseboat owners/shikara wallas, a cursory perusal of the draft policy reveals otherwise.
Kashmir was presently undergoing the 11th month of a lockdown the brunt of which was borne by the tourism industry. The financial and job losses have crippled the fragile sector.
The introduction of the policy at a time when the Government itself has extended a helping hand to the sector by announcement of a three month intervention of Rs. 1,000/- a month for Houseboat owners and Shikara wallas has caused
widespread panic and consternation amongst the houseboat owners. The stakeholders stated that at a time when most of the population was finding it difficult to earn a livelihood and arrange food for their families the reason for rushing through the Houseboat policy was hard to comprehend.
Nasir Hamid Khan assured the participants that their concerns would be effectively advocated before the concerned authorities and the KCC&I would seek revision of the ill-advised conditions of the policy. A detailed response urging for deletion of the
objectionable clauses and other specific amendments to the Draft Policy would be communicated to the concerned authorities in due time.

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