In a step towards preservation of Srinagar’s Dal and Nigeen lakes, the Jammu and Kashmir union territory (UT) government on Wednesday banned construction of new houseboats on the two iconic water-bodies and also ordered categorization based on the facilities on the existing ones.

The UT administration has been approved a policy to regulate the functioning and operation of houseboats in these water-bodies that attract a large number of domestic and foreign tourists.

The administrative council which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, GC Murmu, approved policy guidelines for registration, renewal and operation of houseboats in Dal and Nigeen Lakes.

It was decided that the guidelines should conform to the overall framework of Dal conservation framed by the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) besides, an appropriate legal framework would be also instituted for enforcing the policy.

The decision will help to regulate the functioning and operation of houseboats in both the water bodies and to preserve the lake for future generations by adopting sustainable tourism, preventing pollution of the lake besides, providing conducive and pleasant atmosphere for tourists, on one hand, sustainable source of living for the houseboat, shikara owners and other stake holders.

Complying with the directions of the High Court and suggestions made by the Committee of Experts (CoE) on Dal and Nigeen Lakes, the Government has taken this step for conservation of the two lakes. This move will also address the environmental concerns and give a further push to the ongoing activities relating to preservation and conservation of the lakes.

Under the guidelines, the houseboat owners will be able to register or renew their houseboats after fulfilling certain general conditions. The guidelines also provided constitution of advisory committee to be headed by Director Tourism, Kashmir, to identify areas of concern for securing use of houseboats for enhancing tourist influx and regulatory committee to look after registration and renewal process and overall regulation of functioning of the houseboats.