Though the district administration had promised a crackdown on erring houseboat owners after a crew member was charred to death inside a houseboat that caught fire on August 30, 2012, nothing has changed.
The Tourism Department, responsible for setting up boat jetties, has failed to maintain the jetties on the Punnamada Finishing point. Now, tourists are forced to walk through another houseboat to board their boat.
Kerala Houseboat Owners’ Association president Jomon Konnakapally said at least 13 more jetties could be built in the area from Finishing Point to Kayal Kurisadi and beyond, taking the number of jetties to 20 so that 40 houseboats could berth at a time.
Sources said the jetties set up by the Tourism Department were not up to mark. The floating jetties were a complete failure, they said.
All Kerala Houseboat Owners’ Association secretary N. Sreekumar said the tourism department and the DTPC were responsible for the upkeep of the jetties. “The DTPC is full of political nominees who have no idea about the procedures. The menace of agents is another issue that has not been addressed by the DTPC or Tourism Department,” he said.
Role of middlemen
Sources said the interference of middlemen who canvas tourists to houseboats have caused a dent in the earnings of the houseboat owners. It is also suspected that on Saturday agents might have ushered in the guests to the houseboat kept for maintenance. The lack of basic infrastructure like proper lighting leading to the Punnamada Finishing point and to Kayal Kurissadi boat jetty is another problem.