Owners demand setting up of fire tendering station in lake vicinity
A massive fire broke out inside two deluxe category houseboats of Nigeen Lake during Monday night.
Owner of one of the houseboats, Sameer Bakhtoo said the ‘Houseboat Perfume Garden’ of Mohammad Yusuf Baktoo having four bedrooms and another Houseboat ‘Phoenix’ of Ghulam Ahmad Baktoo with two bedrooms located at Saderbal side of Nageen lake were gutted.
“The value of gutted houseboats is estimated to be Rs. 4.25 crore,” Sameer said.
He said a base of another houseboat valuing Rs. 1.5 lakhs was also gutted in the incident.
“The fire broke out at around 01.00 am at night but the cause could not be ascertained immediately. Possibility is that fire broke out due to short circuit,” he said, adding no tourist was staying in the houseboat during the night.
Sameer said that desolately, due to the absence of the fire-tenders at Dal and Nigeen Lake, the houseboats have never been saved in any previous fire incident.
“Government is not paying attention towards the houseboat community because they don’t consider houseboats as part of tourism,” he added.
Sameer added that there is no compensation for houseboats which is identity of tourism in Kashmir.
“There is not a single fire tender in Nigeen Lake while two fire tenders available in Dal Lake take much time to reach Nigeen lake,” he said.
He said only two fire tenders have been kept for over 900 houseboats moored at Dal and Nigeen Lake.
“As a result the Fire and Emergency Services has not been able to save any houseboat in the previous fire incidents,” he said.
An official of Fire and Emergency Services, Department said they reached the spot on time.
“We try our best to save the maximum portion and there was loss of just Rs. 50 lakh,” he said.
The official added that there is not even a single fire extinguisher installed in the houseboats.
“The owners of houseboats should not blame us only. They also must take care of these things to save their property by following the safety measures,” he further added.
Eight houseboats were gutted in 2017-18 inside the Dal and Nigeen Lake.