Don't pollute Dal lake: J&K govt to houseboat owners
J&K Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu on Friday asked the houseboat owners to desist from pumping raw sewage into the lake every day.
"We all have to work to save Dal Lake which is a treasure for Kashmir," he said. Raising concerns over the volume of waste that has deteriorated the water quality, Drabu pitched for collective efforts to beautify the lake.
"If we develop a consciousness for this water body, the time will not be far away when the untreated sewerage, growth of ferns and duckweed, which is killing other aquatic life, will vanish from the lake," he said at a function.
Drabu was speaking at an event organised by the Houseboat Owners Association on Friday to thank the government for one-time settlement of the debt waiver scheme for houseboat owners with J&K Bank and the State Bank of India.
He said the houseboats are not just business establishments but a part of Kashmiri culture and heritage which need to be preserved and propagated.
"The Kashmiri houseboats remain important to local economic growth, not only in terms of tourism but in promoting culture, architecture, heritage and hospitality," he said. The minister also called for launching courses in 'Hospitality and Protocol' which would cater to these kinds of business establishments.
The decision to waive off the total outstanding balance of Rs 49.78 crore, was announced by the Finance Minister in his budget proposals in 2016.
The waiver has come as a major financial and emotional relief to the houseboat owners and taxi drivers. The houseboat owners also expressed gratitude towards Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and Drabu for implementing the debt-waiver scheme which was hanging fire for the past 20 years.