For the first time in the 148-year history of the bi-annual durbar move, only Kashmir-based employees working in the civil secretariat and other related offices of the Union Territory will move to UT’s summer capital city of Srinagar by month-end. This follows the UT government’s decision to have its civil secretariat function simultaneously at both the summer and winter capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu respectively.
The decision to allow move employees work on “as is where is basis’’ has come in view of the extraordinary circumstances due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a government order issued by the General Administrative Department.
“The civil secretariat at Jammu shall continue to remain functional and the move employees shall work on “as is where is basis’’,” reads the order issued by the General Administration Department.
The orders adds: “Kashmir-based staff shall work from Srinagar and Jammu-based staff shall work from Jammu’’. The move offices outside the civil secretariat shall also continue to remain functional at Jammu/Srinagar, as per the mechanism in case of civil secretariat, it added.
Announcing the formal opening of civil secretariat and other durbar move offices in Srinagar on May 4, the government order stated that the arrangement shall be reviewed after assessing the extent and spread of COVID-19 after June 15.
The government asked all the administrative secretaries to make arrangements to ensure functionality in their respective departments, both at Srinagar and in Jammu.
The Treasury and Moving Branch of J&K Bank, besides the dispensary at civil secretariat also shall be functional at both the places, it said, asking Finance and the Health Departments to put in place a suitable mechanism for the purpose.
Pointing out that the Kashmir-based employees required to move to Srinagar on April 25-26 shall be provided transport facility by the State Road Transport Corporation, the GAD asked them to give their particulars to it for issuance of appropriate passes for movement on the National Highway, if required.
It also asked Director Estates to provide accommodation to the move employees as per requirement and Srinagar Municipal Corporation to carry out extensive sanitation and fumigation of civil secretariat and other move offices, as well as residential colonies of employees before the opening of durbar move offices.
The durbar move tradition was started by erstwhile Dogra ruler Maharaja Ranbir Singh in 1872 to enable people in both the Jammu and Kashmir divisions have access to the state administration. As per it, civil secretariat and other government offices function in UT’s summer capital Srinagar from May to October and during winter months in Jammu from November to April.
Even the then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had in 1989 tried to do away with the practice, triggering sharp protests from people in Jammu. He finally withdrew the decision, but reduced the number of government departments moving in entirety from one summer capital to another as part of the bi-annual durbar move exercise that continues till date.
Meanwhile, Prof Hari Om, a retired Jammu University professor, hailed the UT government’s decision, saying it will expose claims of erstwhile Kashmiri rulers about the representation of Jammu in the civil secretariat. Apart from this, it will also lead to Kashmiris losing control over Jammu region, he added.
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