The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday made life jackets mandatory for shikaras or smaller boats in the Dal, Nigeen lakes and other water bodies of the region for the safety of tourists.
“In order to ensure the safety of tourists taking shikara rides in Dal and Nigeen lakes and other water bodies and to prevent any untoward incident in view of inclement weather conditions or any other reasons, it is hereby ordered that as provided in the J&K Tourism Policy guidelines, each shikara boat registered under J&K Tourist Trade Act, 1978 shall maintain the availability of a minimum of three life-saving Jackets of recommended quality and specifications in the boat, at all times,” a government order said.
It said the registration of shikaras under the said Act would be cancelled if the direction was not abided by.
The move comes after the growing incidents of shikaras getting stuck in turbulent waters on the lakes due to freak weather in Kashmir, which sees sudden gusty winds.
21 tourists rescued
The J&K Police on May 29 rescued 21 tourists who were stranded inside shikaras in the Dal Lake.
The police said despite the challenging conditions, the officers skilfully manoeuvred through the turbulent waters of the Dal Lake to reach the hapless individuals.
Later, the authorities had issued a public advisory and urged visitors “to exercise caution and refrain from venturing into the lake during inclement weather conditions”.
Tastefully decked up, shikaras are a major attraction for tourists during their stay in Kashmir. Hundreds of shikaras mill around the lake with tourists all day. J&K hosted a record number of 26 lakh tourists in 2022.