[GREATER KASHMIR RTI] How LG Manoj Sinha ended Darbar Move practice that emptied J&K's coffers by Rs 1588 Cr in 10 years

Both Srinagar, Jammu functioning normally for 12 months now, saving Govt Rs 200 Cr per year
The 149-year-old Darbar Move practice in J&K was abolished in 2021.
The 149-year-old Darbar Move practice in J&K was abolished in 2021.File/ GK

Srinagar: The Darbar Move, a centuries-old custom in Jammu and Kashmir, was abolished as a result of a decision made by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s government.

In an interview, LG Sinha had said, “When I arrived here, the Darbar Move had just begun, 200 trucks hauling files from Srinagar to Jammu. I’m not sure how long it took.

A file vanishes when it is asked to. There was a huge racket that wanted it to continue as some people were making huge amounts of money from the practice. Now it’s been converted into an e-office so there is no need to shift hundreds of files twice a year.”

The now-disbanded Darbar Move practice of moving the civil secretariat and other significant government offices from Srinagar to Jammu and vice versa cost the J&K government a whopping Rs 1588 crore in the previous 10 years.

In reply to Greater Kashmir’s Right to Information (RTI) application, the General Administration Department (GAD) of J&K stated that the J&K government has spent Rs 1588 crore on this practice during a 10-year period from 2011 to 2020.

The J&K government ended the bi-annual Darbar Move tradition in June 2021 since it required a significant financial outlay.

According to customs, the civil secretariat and a few other government offices operated for six months during the summer in Srinagar and six months during the winter in Jammu.

For any civil secretariat work, persons from Jammu had to travel to Srinagar in the summer while people from Kashmir had to travel to Jammu in the winter to pursue their cases there.

But as of now, the civil secretariat is based both in Srinagar and Jammu.

As per the RTI reply, the Darbar Move expenditure borne by the J&K government in 2011 was Rs 72.5 crore, in 2012 Rs 82.22 crore, in 2013 Rs 192.39 crore, in 2014 Rs 181.72 crore, in 2015 Rs 165.06 crore, in 2016 Rs 179.7 crore, in 2017 Rs 160 crore, in 2018 Rs 191.19 crore, in 2019 Rs 215.19 crore, and in 2020 Rs 146.64 crore.

The 149-year-old Darbar Move practice in J&K was abolished in 2021.

J&K’s administration cancelled residential accommodations of government officials in the twin capitals of Jammu and Srinagar.

On June 20, 2021, LG Manoj Sinha announced that J&K administration has completely transitioned to e-office, thereby ending the practice of the bi-annual Darbar Move.

“Now both the Jammu and Srinagar secretariats can function normally for 12 months. This will save the government Rs 200 crore per year, which will be used for the welfare of the deprived sections,” he had said.

However, the government’s move faced flak from the mainstream political parties asking the authorities to resume the Darbar Move and bring people of both regions closer to each other.

Officials said because of the two bi-annual capitals, trucks transported all goods and, as a result, the government spending increased.

Two times a year, 8000 to 9000 employees of civil secretariats with headquarters in Srinagar and Jammu would relocate with their files.

The government offices would close in the last week of October and move to Jammu when winter arrived in Srinagar.

These offices would once more close in the latter week of April and resume operations in Srinagar when summertime arrived.

When the Dogras governed J&K, Maharaja Ranbir Singh is thought to have instituted this custom in 1872.

The custom persisted even after Singh’s administration in J&K, which continued from 1856 to 1885 and came to an end with his death.

According to a popular belief, the Darbar Move was instituted as a reaction to the harsh weather that Kashmir and Jammu experienced throughout the year.

Kashmir has cold winters whereas Jammu is known for its sweltering summers.

It involved the rotation of staff members among civil secretariats and the movement of thousands of documents through the dangerous 300-km Srinagar-Jammu National Highway.

This initiative called for significant yearly expenditures on hotel, travel expenses, and file transportation.

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