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Drive against illegal houseboats continues in Alappuzha- Mrit News

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The Ports department, which launched a drive more than two months ago against houseboats flouting norms in Alappuzha, has so far impounded 36 vessels.

Among the boats seized include those operating without a mandatory licence, registration, insurance and so on. While the majority of the vessels seized were released later after they renewed their licence, and submitted mandatory certificates, a few are kept at a detention yard at Aryad.

According to the Ports department, as many as 1,588 mechanically propelled boats, including houseboats, shikhara boats and speedboats, are registered with the Alappuzha Port Registry. However, the real numbers are much higher. There are an estimated 1,500 houseboats in the backwaters of Alappuzha. It is understood that nearly half of them operate without registration and licence.

From other districts

Terming the drive a ‘farce’, a section of houseboat owners and operators in Alappuzha said the department had hardly taken any action against boats that violate their area of operation. “When the department launched the drive, we welcomed it. However, houseboats registered in other districts continue to operate in the waters of Alappuzha. The drive against the illegal boats has turned out to be an eyewash,” said Kevin Rozario, general secretary, All Kerala Houseboat Owners and Operators Samiti. A few other houseboat operators alleged that the drive was causing problems for tourists.

Officials’ stance

Officials with the Ports Department, however, said they halted action against ‘other-district vessels’ after a group of houseboat owners, whose crafts are registered in other places but operate in Alappuzha, bagged a court order that imposed a stay on going after their boats. “Barring the issue of boats registered in other districts operating in Alappuzha, the drive that we launched in March is continuing. Our aim is to bring all houseboats on board the licencing system. We are carrying out the drive without causing difficulties for tourists. The boats with visitors onboard are served notices asking them to appear before us at a later time. This drive has no specific date or time. We are conducting surprise checks depending on the availability of staff among other things and it will continue,” said a Ports department official.

At present, no houseboats are newly registered in Alappuzha due to a government ban imposed a few years ago because of the proliferation of the vessels in the waters. Officials said the boats without registration could apply for the same in other districts. If the vessels’ registration and mandatory certificates have expired they could apply for renewal with the Alappuzha Port Registry.


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