149-year-old tradition of capital shifting in Jammu and Kashmir concludes


149-year-old tradition of capital shifting in Jammu and Kashmir concludes.

The 149-year-old biannual tradition of shifting capitals between Srinagar and Jammu, by moving hundreds of official files physically in trucks on the treacherous Jammu-Srinagar highway, came to an end on Wednesday. The administration served notice to employees to vacate the ‘Darbar Move’ related accommodations in three weeks in Jammu and Srinagar.

“Cancellation of allotment of residential accommodation of officers/officials at Srinagar who are stationed at Jammu, and at Jammu, who are stationed at Srinagar. Employees shall vacate their government residential accommodation under occupation within 21 days from the date of issuance of this order,” reads the order of the J&K Estates Department.

Around 8000-9000 employees working in Civil Secretariats, with headquarters in Jammu and Srinagar, would move along with files twice every year. While Srinagar served as the summer capital, Jammu was the winter capital.

Dogra monarch Maharaja Gulab Singh is believed to have started the tradition of shifting the capital in 1872. The tradition was continued after 1947 by J&K’s political class, as it acted as a major bridge and a space for interaction between two diverse linguistic and cultural groups of Kashmir and Jammu regions.

Roll-out of e-office

It was former Chief Secretary B.V.R Subrahmanyam who, on March 31 last said the government had taken concrete steps to switch to paperless office by rolling out e-office in the moving departments.

The administration has uploaded official records to the e-office. “The switch to the online mode will avoid wear and tear as well as loss of official record during the bi-annual transit, besides saving the associated transportation cost,” the government said.

Then Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal of the J&K High Court in 2020 suggested the discontinuation of the tradition, saying “it burdens the exchequer”.

“If this practice was rationalized, the amount of money, resources and time, which could be saved, could be utilized towards the welfare and development of the UT [Union Territory], which has otherwise witnessed much turmoil. It could be utilized for protection and propagation of culture and heritage of the communities,” the court had observed.

However, the residents of J&K have never opposed the tradition, which also resulted in an additional economic activity for both the capitals.

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