Houseboat owners demand govt intervention as backwater tourism suffers heavy loss
Kumarakom: Houseboat owners are demanding an extension of time period for dry docking survey and pollution control board certificates by three years. They have also requested for one year extended period to renew their yearly license.
The industry was going through tough times after Nipah virus outbreak and the back to back floods. But the ongoing pandemic has made things even worse. The owners will have to spend lakhs of rupees to do the maintenance work on the boats that have been lying idle for a long time. The investors have asked for government intervention to help the struggling boat owners.
Rs 5000 is needed for renewing the license but a hefty sum will have to be paid for the dry docking survey. Shanej Indraprastham, former secretary of Kumarakom House Boat Owners Society, demanded that interest-free moratorium should be allowed for bank loans based on the existing license. Dry docking survey would require an amount between Rs 7 – 10 lakhs, depending on the number of rooms in the boat. It is estimated that house boating sector will remain closed even when other sectors open up post the lockdown.
The investors are also demanding Rs 5 lakhs as interest-free loan through service sector banks in order to complete the maintenance work of these houseboats. There are 1200 houseboats and 700 shikara boats in the Vembanadu lake as part of the backwater tourism. Houseboats suffer a loss of Rs 10,000 per day while shikara boats incur loss of Rs 1500 daily.
As per this estimate, houseboat sector suffers from a loss of Rs 2 crores daily. Thousands of people associated with the houseboat sector work have lost their livelihood.