Srinagar, Aug 10 (UNI) Kashmir tourism has refuted reports of decline in the number of houseboats saying that Srinagar had 1200 registered houseboats inspite of a ban imposed in late 1980s on fresh registration and construction of houseboats.
Tourism Director Farooq Ahmad Shah yesterday said the conservation of Dal and Nageen lakes warranted the number of houseboats be feasible.
He said the supply of Cedar timber on subsidised rates by the government for repairs of the boats was being taken care by the Forest department.
To meet the demand for construction of dry docks for repairs, the department of Tourism had already released Rs 20 lakh to the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA).
He said the issue of rehabilitation of families living in kitchen boats and wooden sheds was likely to be affected by the realignment programme, addressed by LAWDA.
Mr Shah said after the sanction of loans in favour of the houseboat owners in 1998 and 2004 under the state package and Prime Minister's Employment Package, a revival in tourism sector was witnessed.
He said over 5 lakh domestic tourists visited the Valley this year up to July 25 which was 97 per cent greater than corresponding figures of last year.
UNI BAS SW RK1030