Winter ''durbar kafila'' on way to Jammu
30 October 2000
The Times of India
M Saleem Pandit
Jammu: It is the world''s longest ''kafila'' (caravan) when the government ''moves'' from here to Jammu on the onset of every winter and returns with the begining of summer. It is a sight to behold - more than 200 trucks carry official files, furniture and equipment. There is no count of official and personal vehicles which also move to and fro. It costs the fund-starved state over Rs 20 crore annually. The ''royal move'' reminds one of Mohammad Tuglaq who had ordered the shifting of his capital from Delhi to the south of his empire. With the change of season, as per the tradition, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir also comes in for a change. The J&K government works from Srinagar in the summers and moves to Jammu every winter and this year is no exception. Engaging more than 200 trucks to cart official files, furniture and equipment, nearly 20 government offices including the civil secretariat have already shifted from Srinagar to Jammu for this winter. The ''move offices'' here were declared closed on October 27 and are to be re-opened on November 6 in Jammu. This annual ''durbar move'' which includes transportation of government files and office equipment, travel allowance and other perks to six thousand government employees who move to the seasonal capital, cost the exchequer a neat package of Rs 20 crore. Traffic police has been notified the schedule of the movement of trucks carrying office record via the Srinagar-Jammu national highway. No truck carrying provisions would be allowed on this highway on November 4 and 5 to avoid the traffic jams during the movement. The practice of annual change of the state capital dates back to the Dogra rule. The erstwhile rulers'' seat of administration was located at Jammu, but to have effective control over the Valley and to escape the heat of the plains, in 1946, they started the trend of moving office to Kashmir every summer. The royal trend has continued ever since. It reminds one of Mohammad Tuglaq who once ordered shift of capital from Delhi to the south of his empire. Royal farmanordered all citizens of Delhi to move to the new capital at the cost of thousands of lives and many more lives were lost when people were called back to Delhi when Tugaluq changed his mind. The annual change of the J&K capital brings with it a lot of difficulties for the people of both the regions. A person has to ''chase his file for 300 kms to get the needful done by officers at the civil secretariat.'' Chief minister Farooq Abdullah''s attempt in 1987 to rectify the situation by ordering a partial ''durbar move'' provoked violent agitation in Jammu. Such a thing would have adversely affected Jammu''s economy and business. It was on intervention by the late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi that the shift of all the government offices was resumed.