Durbar to open in Srinagar today

The J&K government would start functioning from Srinagar from Monday after returning from the state’s winter capital Jammu as part of the bi-annual Durbar Move.
Durbar to open in Srinagar today
File Photo

The J&K government would start functioning from Srinagar from Monday after returning from the state's winter capital Jammu as part of the bi-annual Durbar Move.

'Durbar' or seat of governance moves to function from Jammu for six months of winter and then returns to the summer capital Srinagar for next six months.

The Governor's office Raj Bhavan, Civil Secretariat that houses offices of Chief Minister, council of ministers and bureaucrats—and some other offices—are part of the Durbar Move, the bi-annual practice started by Dogra rulers in 1872 to give a "fillip to economy of Jammu and escape harsh winters of Kashmir."

According to officials in J&K's General Administration Department, 50 offices including the civil secretariat have shifted in full from Jammu while 52 offices moved in camp.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director of Estates Department, Tassaduq Jeelani, said all arrangements have been made to ensure smooth functioning of the civil secretariat in Kashmir.

He said Government has made "suitable" arrangements for accommodation of Move employees in Srinagar. "We have hired over 100 hotels for the employees, apart from quarters available with us for their accommodation," he said.

Director General of Police SP Vaid said all requisite security arrangements have been put in place for Durbar Move. 

According to observers, a major challenge for the Government in next six months would be to ensure good governance and development in Kashmir which has suffered immensely on these fronts following the 2014 floods.

In 2016, the highest seat of governance functioned only for a "brief time" in Kashmir and remained "paralyzed" in the wake of massive protests and clashes triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani on July 8.

At the peak of the anti-India uprising, the Civil Secretariat witnessed minimal attendance as low as 200.

In the past 145 years, many governments have opined that the Durbar Move practice affected governance, directly and indirectly, but none could do much about it given the sensitivity of the issue and the cry of "regional discrimination."

In 1987, the Farooq Abdullah-led government floated the idea of stalling the practice and constituted a committee to look into the matter.

In 1987, a report titled "Durbar Move: The Reality" threw light on the practice and the problems thereof. "This practice of move of offices from one place to another was started by Maharaja Gulab Singh over a hundred years ago. It was essentially to establish his presence in the newly-acquired territory of Kashmir besides escaping the heat of summer of Jammu. At that time the Royal Court was very small. Ministers were few and the Secretariat was very compact."

According to the report, there were only a dozen departments which used to move with the Maharaja.

"It wastes nearly six to eight weeks of precious official time in packaging, moving and then settling down to work. It has also compelled the Government to make massive capital investment on residential accommodation and office space. Most of it lies unused for six months in Srinagar and in Jammu," the report read.

In April 2012, then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah questioned the wisdom of Durbar Move, saying: "It is wastage of money and an escapist move. Do I think the 'Durbar move' (shifting of capital) is a waste of money? Yes I do. Is there an alternative? I haven't seen a viable alternative suggested."

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