SRINAGAR – Seven tourists from Jharkhand had a miraculous escape on Thursday when a houseboat they had hired capsized in the Dal Lake here.
The “B” Class houseboat “Kolhai” sank early in the morning, causing panic.Its owner Mohammad Yousuf and others quickly evacuated the tourists which included two children and two women and shifted them to the shore safely amid heavy rains.”My first priority was to rescue the tourists as it was the issue of human lives,” he said.The Kashmir Valley received heavy rainfall over the past few days, pushing up the water level in streams, lakes and rivers.Yousuf said as the houseboat gradually sank, it cracked, causing extensive damage to it.
He said that all furniture, fixtures, televisions and other costly accessories were badly damaged. He estimated the loss at Rs 25 lakh.The owner said that their houseboat was old and needed repairs for which they had time and again requested the authorities for permission.The Jammu and Kashmir government Administration Council on June 12 approved the proposal of the Tourism Department to provide subsidized timber for repairs and maintenance of houseboats and taxi shikaras.
The owner alleged that had the government allowed them to repair the houseboat earlier, this incident would have been avoided.“We are now homeless as the houseboat has been completely damaged. We appeal to the authorities to provide compensation, besides permission to repair our houseboat,” Yousuf said.