Coronavirus: Till Pandemic Subsides, Jammu, Srinagar To Have Separate Secretariats

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by Tasavur Mushtaq

SRINAGAR:  As the government on Friday came out with an order for the formal opening of the darbar move offices in Srinagar from May 4, 2020, this year there is a change.

Civil Secretariat Jammu.

Citing extraordinary circumstances created out of Coronavirus pandemic as the reason, the LG G C Murmu led administration has decided to keep civil secretariat functional from both Jammu and Srinagar, simultaneously.

According to the order issued by General Administration Department on Friday, “in view of the extraordinary circumstances due to Covid-19 pandemic, Civil Secretariat at Jammu  shall continue to remain functional and the Move employees shall work on ‘as is where is’ basis i.e Kashmir based staff shall work from Srinagar and Jammu based staff shall work from Jammu.”

It is further said that the move offices outside the civil secretariat shall also continue to remain functional at Jammu/Srinagar, as per the mechanism put in place.

Drawing flak, the order which directs administrative secretaries “to make necessary arrangements to ensure the functionality in their respective departments, both at Srinagar and Jammu” has created confusion.

An employee working in a civil secretariat, right now in Jammu sees the order as “vague” and very difficult to have success on the ground. “There is a lot of ambiguity in this order,” he said and added, “If staff is stationed at the respective places, who will lead them eventually.”

Requesting to remain anonymous, he raised the concern that “how the single office with a single set of files would operate from two places.”

The government has also ordered that the Civil Secretariat treasury and J&K Bank Moving Branch at civil secretariat shall be functional at both the places within the civil secretariat.

Questioning the decision, a Jammu based KAS officer said for the time being the government should have continued the existing arrangement without actually disturbing the fabric of age-old practice. “What is needed to do all this? Right now we see all efforts being worked on Covid, they could have delayed it.” He said.

The order is silent over the mechanism for the functioning of the senior officers and the departmental heads. “In a department, we have one administrative secretary, where will he sit and if Srinagar based employees have to move only, what about the record,” asks a middle rung employee.

A retired police officer while speaking about the order said “what about the DGP, where will he be stationed” and also added that this is something which is going to be “futile.”

Terming the order as “rubbish”, former chief minister of the state Omar Abdullah asked to withdraw this order and delay the move of offices till the Covid threat passes.

In a series of tweets, Omar criticised the order, “This order of two ‘functioning secretariats” will just create confusion because no one will know which secretariat to approach to get their work done. It would be better to withdraw this order & just delay the move of offices till the #Covid_19 threat has passed.”

In another tweet, Omar asked how the offices would function, “Most of the Kashmir based employees are in Jammu since the secretariat was functioning in Jammu over the winter so who will operate out of the Srinagar secretariat? If Srinagar secretariat has no employees, no officers & no files what is it being opened for?

Durbar Move: Old Practices, New Realities

Terming it as needless tokenism, Omar wrote, “This order regarding the bi-annual ‘durbar move’ is just mindless rubbish at worst & needless tokenism at best. So the offices can’t shift to Srinagar because of #covid_19, I get that, What I don’t get is what Srinagar secretariat will do without files or senior officers?

As the order reads, the date of opening in Srinagar is May 4 and the timing would be 9:30 am to 5:30 pm for offices working for five days and 10:00 am to 4:30 pm for offices working for six days.

The government has further said the decision would be reviewed after assessing the extent and spread of Covid-19 after June 15, 2020

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