Darbar Debate

As the Darbar is about to make its way back to Kashmir valley after spending six months in warm climes of Jammu, workers in summer capital Srinagar struggle to dress up the waterlogged streets to make them look attractive to visitors from plains.

Almost every year, when 150-strong fleet of state road transport trucks carrying loads of important government documents and other paraphernalia start to make their way towards one of the twin state capitals, it is a common practise to debate the futility of move.

In a cash-starved state like Jammu and Kashmir, which has so far failed to fulfil even the basic necessities of its citizens like uninterrupted electricity, clean drinking water and healthcare, spending Rs 9 crore of the state exchequer’s money annually to sustain a monarch’s legacy is insensitive.

However these loud voices against the practice of Darbar Move remain silent on more sensitive issues that directly affect common masses.

Last year, as the debate about Darbar Move made headlines, the tech savvy young chief minister Omar Abdullah wasted no time in terming the practice as ‘waste of money’. He also lost no time in adding that “there is no viable alternative also.”

This year as government officials were in a rush to cool their heels in Srinagar, a new low was reached by the custodians of state’s health affairs. The lackadaisical response to the supply of spurious drugs in state run hospitals shows the level of concern that people at the helm of affairs have for issues concerning people’s lives. Perhaps the alleged involvement of the top government officials in the fake drug supply scam made government act as silent spectator. In last five years, there were 12860 deaths in SKIMS only, according to Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India’s report which was tabled in both Houses of Legislature in Jammu recently.

Interestingly, Omar Abdullah is the Chairman of the SKIMS governing body where, according to CAG report, the system of drawing of samples of drugs for testing to ensure procurement of quality medicines and drugs is not in the Institute. The drug quality control laboratory stopped functioning since November 2003 and Rs 1.40 crore released during 2009-11 to set up an advanced quality assurance laboratory was lying unspent in a civil deposit. Physical verification of drugs and surgical instruments had not been conducted since June 2008.”

The notion that government was caught napping on supply of fake drugs to hospitals finds no taker in Kashmir. Instead of coming down heavily on people involved in the supply of fake drugs, the debate is tactically being turned into a political fight between present and former health minister.

The ease with which government sidelines itself from its responsibility to ensure safety of the people, it leaves less doubt about its willingness to end the menace. Instead of wasting money on Darbar move, it would be prudent for the government to divert these funds for betterment of healthcare of Kashmir. And rest the Darbar Debate, once and for all.

 

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