Time for a rethink on costly Durbar move; let the CM, cabinet move but bureaucracy, files stay put
The practice of Durbar move which was started under the Dogra rule is increasingly becoming a costly affair with entire state paraphernalia required to be shifted from Kashmir to Jammu and vice versa once the season changes. The practice also carries a lot of political, social, economical and psychological baggage along with it, and huge public sentiment which is the reason it would be difficult to stop it. The shifting of the state every season costs almost 50 cr annually, and even more if the opportunity cost of this entire exercise is taken into account. Despite the costs involved it would be difficult to stop this shift altogether because there are strong differences between people of the Kashmir and Jammu region, and it would not be possible to let the government be housed in one capital. The solution to this problem could be easily founded in technology, and if a massive thrust is put on bringing every file of the government then it would be easier to a major extent that only movement of people is required, and no files needed to be shifted in large number of trucks. Right now even the furniture of some of the departments is required to be shifted once the Durbar is shited after the end of the season.
The practice in fact involves the packing of entire government records, and nearly 7000 state officials are shifted bag and baggage, and the cost of this shift is increasing every year. The transport cost of this exercise alone is Rs 10 crore which is paid to the SRTC. Another major cost is that Jammu based employees of the government have to be accommodate in private hotels and lodges, and once it shifts to Jammu the same costly practice is continued. This is nothing but a huge wastage of revenue, and if the central government guides the polity of the state, and also technology is used in the right manner, the huge amount of government data, information and files could be put on a state wide network which can be accessed by the employees sitting anywhere in the state. If this happens there would be no need to shift files and employees, and the two secretariats can function all the times in the state with the Chief Minister and other ministers sharing time between two capitals equally. The cost will also go down because bureaucrats appointed in the secretariat need not be shifted which happens with every move. In an era of air-conditioning, central heating, and world class internet and online services which can enable real time video-conferencing there is no need for the government to make this huge expenditure. This become even more important at a time when the state has been hit badly by flood, and huge amount of money is required to rebuild both Jammu and Kashmir provinces. There is massive unemployment, and even the government employees are waiting for arrears.
The practice of Durbar move started during the reign of Maharaja Gulab Singh, and there is no need to stop this symbolic gesture but the need is decentralize the administration. This is possible if we make available data, and information online, and allow officials to take decision at local level. The political head of the government which includes the CM, and his cabinet may shift every season but the bureaucrats, and their files need not be packed every summer, and winter to ensure that Durbar shifts but the governance does not suffer.