Srinagar: Another houseboat sank in Dal Lake on Wednesday, the second one during the day, as snow continued to batter the city and the rest of the valley.
According to initial inputs, the Houseboat named ‘New Shimla’ located near Ghat no.7 sunk after it leaked in water during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday.
Earlier today, house boat ‘Bulzimar’ belonging to one Gulam Nabi, located near Nehru Park in Dal Lake had sunk in a similar way.
Including today’s, nine have sunk in the last six months as more houseboats have started to collapse since their owners could not afford the yearly coring of the wooden structures.
Coring is periodic plugging of the gaps between the wooden planks of the houseboat’s floor with a special, dried grass to keep the boat watertight.
It costs around Rs 60,000 to Rs 80,000 depending upon the size and the state of the boat.
Besides, the heavy snowfall has made boats even more vulnerable with their owners having sleepless nights since Sunday morning as the structures cannot hold more a few inches of snow.
Drastic slump in tourism, especially during the last one year, has pushed the owners (Shikarawallas) of these boats to the brink of starvation, forcing many to dismantle the boats themselves and sell the leftover timber for meagre sums that no way can be compared to the cost required to build one.
A rich representation of Kashmir’s culture and history, houseboats are equally dear to build as the cost of wood has shot up.
For instance, the houseboat of an average size will require at least Rs 50 lakh to construct. The floor bed of a boat is all made up of deodar, a costly wood type that has greater lifespan in water.
If cored on time, these boats typically have a lifespan of around 80 to 100 years. But with zero tourist arrival, the situation has changed.
None of the owners have been able to keep up with the mandatory coring process.
“We haven’t been able to repeat the coring process for over two years now as we have no money to do that,” said Mujeeb Pakhtoon, a young houseboat owner, who is at odds and compelled to dismantle his boat before it sinks.