An End for Kashmir’s ‘Mughal Palaces on Water’?

Travel Blog  •  Joanna Kakissis  •  03.19.09 | 2:17 PM ET

Photo by shahbasharat via Flickr (Creative Commons)

The beautifully carved wooden houseboats, which are area icons, date to the 19th century, when they shielded British officials from the subcontinent’s penetrating summers. Today, tourists rent the houseboats on Dal Lake, which, though seemingly lovely, is actually a dumping ground for untreated sewage.

To combat the pollution, Kashmir’s provincial government has asked houseboat owners to install pricey sewage treatment on the vessels within 90 days or face a shutdown, The Guardian reports. But the houseboat owners, many of whom live below the poverty line, say they can’t afford the units. “The government should pay for the sewage treatment units, or it should put all the 850 houseboats together and blow them up with one big bomb,” lamented Mohammed Azam Tuman, president of the Houseboats and Shikara Owners Association.

Joanna Kakissis's writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe and The Washington Post, among other publications. A contributor to the World Hum blog, she's currently a Ted Scripps fellow in environmental journalism at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

2 Comments for An End for Kashmir’s ‘Mughal Palaces on Water’?

pam 03.19.09 | 10:19 PM ET

I stayed on one of these lovely things a zillion years ago when I was doing my backpacking in India thing, so I’m sad to hear they’re at risk. With them being such a huge tourist draw, I wonder why the gov’t can’t invest in the infrastructure to keep them available.

I know it’s not that simple, nothing ever is.

Grizzly Bear Mom 03.20.09 | 11:52 AM ET

What about composting toilets?  Or putting tiny porta johns on board and periodically vaccuming them out?  There has to be a way.  Any ideas from engineers out there?

Oh-but I am happy to see the government concerened with sewage pollution.

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