Houseboats must be excluded from the purview of the (Kerala) Inland Vessel Rules, 2010, the All Kerala Houseboat Owners' Association has demanded. Houseboats cannot be compared to tourist vessels and passenger ferries, since these traditional vessels are never crowded beyond their capacity. The boat tragedies at Kumarakom, Thattekad and Thekkady occurred because of overloading and the apathy of officials who issued licence to the vessels, said V.C. Zachariah, president of the Association.

“Houseboats have no history of being involved in similar accidents. This apart, they ferry guests along the calm inland waterways, near the coast. Despite these facts, we were not consulted while framing the rules. The insistence on houseboats and workers conforming to these new rules would affect the sector and result in around 4,000 workers being rendered jobless,” he said.

Safe mode

He said houseboats were safe for use in the inland waterways because of skilled traditional boat-builders make the boats.

Protesting against the rule, a dharna was organised in front of the Alappuzha Collectorate recently. Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy would inaugurate a dharna to be held in front of the Secretariat on May 31.

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