No tourists or services, houseboats left in the lurch

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Kochi: With no tourists or services, demands have been raised to waive the ports licence fees and pollution control fees for the houseboats.

The ports fee is from Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000, while the pollution control fee is from Rs 17,000 and Rs 20,000.

Due to the Covid lockdown last year, the houseboats missed out on one season, including the summer. Hundreds of houseboats in the Alappuzha-Kumarakom region then spent lakhs of rupees to carry out maintenance works and resumed services during the December-January months. However, the business came to a halt by March again.

Bank loans

There are over 1200 houseboats in Kerala. Of which, 900 have licences. To avail government's financial aid or bank loan, they must have remitted the fees on time and holding insurance.

Most of the houseboats are built after taking loans to the tune of Rs 50 lakh. Therefore, fees have to be remitted duly to retain insurance. Demands have been raised to waive the fees as the houseboats have not been making any income.

If the ports fee is delayed by even one day, double the amount will have to be remitted. Houseboat entrepreneurs had pointed this out during a meet with the Tourism Minister, but the ports department has to make a call over the issue.

Income stopped

The staff of the houseboats neither have a job nor any means for income. They completely lost out on the summer services. As the monsoon has started, there is no other option but to move the boats to the shed, Houseboat Owners’ Federation president Jobin J Akkarakalam said.

Only 96 boats got the nod for the financial aid given by the tourism department for repair works though there were over 300 applicants.

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