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Functioning of Houseboats: Admin rolls out policy for houseboats in Dal, Nigeen lakes

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Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday rolled out a policy aimed at regulating the functioning of the houseboats moored in the world famous Dal and Nigeen lakes by adopting the models of sustainable and responsible tourism.
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 of notification of the policy, an official spokesperson said here.
Keeping in view the carrying capacities, the tourism department has capped the number of houseboats in both lakes at 910.
The spokesperson said the Administrative Council, which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, approved the rollout of the policy and guidelines for a sustainable operation of houseboats in the twin lakes, star attraction for the tourists visiting Srinagar.
“In a bid to preserve the marine ecosystem of the lakes, the new policy aims to regulate the functioning of the houseboats moored in the Dal and Nigeen lakes by adopting the models of sustainable and responsible tourism,” he said.
The spokesperson said the policy envisages providing a pleasant experience to tourists and a sustainable source of living to the stakeholders while preserving the fragile ecosystem.
He said the houseboats and the associated structures are required to be fitted with bio-digesters for a scientific treatment of solid or liquid waste in accordance with the approved design of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, besides ensuring the availability of adequate fire safety equipment, along with trained staff to be verified by the fire and emergency services department.
The policy lays down regulations for ancillary facilities such as kitchens, lodging, furniture, first-aid, electricity, power back-up, sanitary fittings and shikara for navigation, the spokesperson said.
He said the policy also ensures availability of minimum basic facilities to the tourists to be categorised on the basis of the different classes of the houseboats.
The policy includes provisions for undertaking repairs on damaged, dilapidated and abandoned houseboats, and revival of cruise boats and donga cruise, the spokesperson said.
Moreover, he said the policy provides for the constitution of an advisory committee under the chairmanship of the 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 the Deputy Director, Tourism will also be constituted for ensuring compliance with the norms and procedures laid down in the policy, the spokesperson added.
He said the policy bridges the aspirations of all the stakeholders while complying with the directions of the high court in the matter.
Meanwhile, the AC approved the proposal of the Jal Shakti department to create 19 posts in the J-K Water Resources Regulatory Authority to enhance its efficacy, an official spokesperson said.
The approval to the proposal was granted by the administrative council which met under the chairmanship of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha here, the spokesperson said.
He said the new posts created include a ground water scientist, an agriculture scientist, two superintendent engineers, three executive engineers, four assistant engineers, five junior engineers, two senior assistants, and a junior assistant.
Being a statutory body, J&KWRRA is responsible for regulating water resources within the territorial jurisdiction of Jammu and Kashmir, ensuring judicious, equitable and sustainable management, allocation and utilization of these resources, and fixing the rates for use of water.
The AC also approved development of seven new trekking routes in various protected wildlife areas.
It also okayed opening up of existing infrastructure and resources of the forest department to tourists and wildlife enthusiasts to sustainably promote tourism in the forest hinterland without disturbing the ecological balance in the protected areas, a spokesperson said.
He said the decisions would allow online booking of 29 forest rest houses and inspection huts in Kashmir and Jammu divisions, under a common brand and logo from May 1.
The department of Forest, Ecology and Environment has been directed to put in place a user-friendly online portal for booking identified rest houses on a first-come, first-serve basis according to their availability and intake capacity, the spokesperson said.
He said the department was directed to refurbish and open another batch of 58 rest houses and huts to tourists by July 1.
These accommodations are located in different forest divisions at the quaintest places amid pristine nature, he said, adding till now they were reserved for forest officers to be utilized only during official tours.
The spokesperson said the administrative council approved development of new trekking routes in Bahu Conservation Reserve, Sudhmahadev Conservation Reserve, Thein Wildlife Conservation Reserve, Tral Wildlife Sanctuary-Dachigam National Park-Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, Thajwas Wildlife Sanctuary, Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve-Dachigam National Park-Khonmoh Conservation Reserve, and Khrew Wildlife Conservation Reserve.
“The trekking avenues range from short day-long treks up and down mountain slopes to long trans-mountain traverses involving a week of trekking and camping in the wilderness,” he said.
“Now that youth across India are inclined more towards adventure activities, these treks will be developed as well sought-after destinations for trekkers. The development of these trekking routes will provide gainful employment to the local population and tap the adventure/eco-tourism potential of the Union Territory,” the spokesperson said.


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