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Aims: The aims of the current paper is to provide a comparative analysis of the water ecosystem in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India and to highlight economic potentiality of the two nerve tributaries; “Dal Lake” and “River Jhelum” to the farmers and other communities of the Kashmiri society.
Study Design: The temperate region of Kashmir valley is bestowed with many water bodies in the form of springs, lakes and rivers. Kashmir region is world famous for its lakes viz; “Dal Lake”, “Wulur Lake”, “Mansbal Lake”, “Anchar Lake”, “Nigeen Lake”; springs viz; Kokarnag, Verinag, Achabal and “River Jhelum” etc. “Dal Lake” and “River Jhelum” are known to be the nerve tributaries of the valley and various communities are dependent on these water bodies for their livelihood.
Methodology: Contingent valuation method and willingness to pay techniques were used to analyse the data and interpret the results.
Results: The results revealed that economic value associated with the selected water bodies was worth millions of US$. Most of the population in the valley depends on these water bodies for their livelihood. In addition, the results reveal that over the years, pollution and encroachment of these water bodies has increased manifold reducing the width, depth and recreational value of these water bodies. Though every stakeholder is willing to pay for the restoration of these water bodies, however, little or no attention is being paid by the local government towards their, management, sustenance and conservation.
Conclusion: The study concludes that over the years, due to growth of population in the valley along with the ever increasing influx of floating population in terms of tourist arrivals, the selected water bodies (Dal Lake & River Jhelum) came under heavy stress, culminating into the deterioration of their aesthetic and recreational value besides drastic reduction in their revenue generation for their poor water quality and mismanagement. The restoration of these water bodies, which in addition of providing employment to the stakeholders in huge numbers also generate revenue worth millions of US$, demands devising a pragmatic policy by the government towards their conservation and restoration of their lost glory through efficient management and monitoring system.