Durbar Move: Special Status Revoked, Autocratic Tradition Retained

Offices To Shut in Srinagar on Oct 25, Reopens in Jammu on Nov 4

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JAMMU – As part of the bi-annual “Durbar Move”, under which the Jammu and Kashmir government functions for six months each in Jammu and Srinagar, all move offices, including the civil secretariat and the Raj Bhavan, will close in Srinagar on October 25-26 and reopen in Jammu on November 4, an official order said on Tuesday.

This will be the first “Durbar Move” after the scrapping of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and its bifurcation into Union territories in August, which also gave rise to the speculation that the governor’s administration was planning to do away with the century-old practice that costs the state exchequer huge money annually.

The order said the General Administration Department (GAD), the Home, Hospitality and Protocol, Estates, Information Technology, Information departments as well as the National Informatics Centre would identify a few officers and staff, who would stay in Srinagar till November 1 in view of the impending formation of the two new Union territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh — on October 31.

The order, issued by Additional Secretary to the Government, GAD, Subash Chhibber, said the move offices observing five days a week would close at Srinagar on October 25 and those observing six days a week would close on October 26, after the office hours.

“All the offices shall reopen at Jammu on November 4 (Monday),” the order read.

The “Durbar Move” was started by the then Maharaja Gulab Singh in 1872 to escape the extreme summer heat in Jammu and the biting cold of winters in Srinagar and the practice was continued by the elected governments post-independence.

The state spends crores of rupees every year to shift voluminous records between the two capital cities twice a year, besides paying a similar amount in allowance to the several thousand employees who shift base with the government.

Several political parties have in the past demanded scrapping of the practice and instead, establishing permanent offices both at Jammu and Srinagar.

The civil secretariat — the seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government — along with 50 other offices, is moving in full, while 53 offices are moving in camps and have been directed to carry only 33 per cent of their staff strength or 10 officials, whichever is minimum, or otherwise, as specifically indicated.

The State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) has been directed to make available trucks for shifting the records from Srinagar to Jammu and the loaded trucks would leave for Jammu on October 27 in a convoy, the order said, adding that all the departments would depute their advance parties on October 21, consisting of one gazetted officer and four to five non-gazetted employees, who would receive the records at Jammu.

The SRTC was also directed to make available a sufficient number of buses in a good condition for the transportation of the Jammu-based employees on October 26-27 and the Kashmir-based employees on November 2-3.

The order said a special move travel allowance would be paid at a uniform rate of Rs 15,000 per employee, which would be drawn and disbursed in advance.

The allowance, however, shall not be payable to those employees who do not move before the prescribed date.

Meanwhile, Divisional Commissioner (DC), Jammu, Sanjeev Verma has reviewed the arrangements for the shifting of the civil secretariat and other offices to the winter capital at a high-level meeting here.

The meeting discussed the security arrangements at the civil secretariat and the residential quarters for the move employees, an official spokesperson said.

He added that the DC had sought details about the status of sanitation, renovation and the upgradation works to be taken up at the secretariat and the government quarters, an official spokesperson said.

Verma directed the officers of the departments concerned to ensure that the renovation, upgradation and repair work at all the government residential colonies was completed well in time and facilities such as drinking water, electricity and ration were made available.

 


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