Black flags, black-out in houseboats in Dal Lake

Published: Thursday, September 21, 2006, 15:38 [IST]
 

Srinagar, Sept 21: Darkness envelopes the Boulevard road on the banks of world famous Dal Lake, the hub of tourism in Kashmir, every evening these days as lights of the houseboats are switched off as a mark of protest.

The houseboat owners have devised a novel way of registering protest against an order of the Lakes And Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), asking them to shift their houseboats immediately.

Besides, resorting to black-out, they have also hoisted black flags atop the houseboats.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court while hearing a public interest litigation on August 30 had directed LAWDA to realign the houseboats in consultation with the Houseboat owners Association (HBOA) within a week.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justices Bashir Ahmed Khan and Bashir Ahmed Kirmani, had also directed LAWDA to impress upon the HBOA to use its good offices in getting the encroachments, unauthorised and illegal structures removed for realignment of houseboats in the Dal Lake.

LAWDA has accused the HBOA of non-cooperation. However, the HBOA office- bearers say LAWDA officials were violating the court orders by threatening the houseboat owners of dire consequences if they fail to shift the houseboats immediately.

The HBOA says LAWDA should discuss the rehabilitation plan with it and show the new spots for anchoring the houseboats.

As LAWDA and the HBOA trade charges, the houseboats owners decided to resort to peaceful agitation.

Today when the LAWDA officials came along with police to remove the houseboats, they met with a strong resistance from several hundred families dependant on these houseboats.

Carrying sticks, they shouted slogans against the authorities.

Apprehending trouble, the officials and police later withdrew even as the demonstrations by the houseboat owners and their families continued for several hours.

UNI


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