Inside Secretariat: Cats, rats populate corridors where records carried from Jammu lie untouched
Srinagar, July 20: The concrete six-storey building with white-washed windows of Civil Secretariat Srinagar might appear to be in a good state but once you step inside, it turns out to be the opposite. The smelly corridors are littered with dusty steel trunks and rusty wardrobes that contain confidential files and documents. The files lie tied in dusty bundles, as sheaves of paper peek out listlessly.
The smell of stale paper hangs uneasily in the air, and occupies the building entirely. Whatever little space is left from these bundles and trunks, it is occupied by hapless people who wait with a resigned air to get their files opened and addressed. The story of chaos doesn’t end here. Moreover, to make the matters worse, cats and rodents are also a common sight. One can spot stray cats sniffing at the trunks in the hope of a rat, or occasionally a whiskered mouse scurrying through the lanes. “At times, you come across the cat faeces and rat droppings inside the official chambers. The wardrobes are a breeding ground for insects and endless cobwebs,” an official of Industries and Commerce Department in the Civil Secretariat, said. He added, “The rat-to-human infections aren't merely a horrific possibility; they are a reality. There are full chances that such infections can spread here.” Another official said, “More than two months have passed and several departments are yet to take out files from boxes. To add to the present mess, stray cats have found their shelter on the unmoved trunks.” According to officials, apart from lurking around the jam-packed corridors, cat sightings in the building are also common outside their chambers. “We can’t leave the door open even for a minute as a feline is always sitting on the door-mat and comes in the moment we open it,” the official said. It was on May 7 when Durbar was shifted to Srinagar, but the files are still unopened, resulting in the work getting stalled. “If this is the condition inside the Civil Secretariat, what will one expect in other government offices? Moreover, the rusty boxes in the corridors act as an eye-sore. Anyone could steal the important files, which are lying scattered on the floor,” the official said. The apathy of the officials has left the people fuming with many complaining of having lost their documents. Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Kupwara, said that he was told by the officials of Finance Department they were yet to trace his file. “An official told me that I should visit after two weeks to get addressed my problem as the many files are lying in steel wardrobe,” he said. He rued, “Looking at the mess prevalent here, I am fully convinced that they won’t be able to spot it.” Civil Secretariat, the highest seat of the Jammu and Kashmir government was opened in Srinagar on May 7, after functioning in the winter capital for six months as part of the nearly 150-year-old practice known in the state as ‘Darbar Move’. However, in the ongoing Governor’s Rule, only three advisors can be seen nowadays available at the Civil Secretariat. However, the limited number of officials is unable to meet the huge rush of people. This results in great inconvenience to the visitors especially those who come from remote areas.
A resident of Pampore, Shakeel Ahmad, who stood waiting outside the chamber of advisor Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, said, "I have been standing in the queue for the last three hours, but so far, I didn't get my turn to meet the advisor.