Even BJP MLAs hail Gehlot Govt’s decision to create 19 new districts
Announcement of 19 new districts in Rajasthan on Friday by chief minister Ashok Gehlot is being hailed as a game-changer. How will it help?
Caught by surprise by the chief minister announcing formation of 19 new districts, taking the number to 50 from the current 31, Bharatiya Janata Party in the opposition complained that it was a gimmick in an election year. The state, BJP leaders Vasundhara Raje and Rajendra Rathore asserted, could not afford the cost of creating so many districts. They believe this will never be translated on the ground.
The half-hearted criticism, however, did not stop legislators from even the BJP from hailing it. INC MLA Madan Prajapat, who had stopped wearing footwear for the past one year vowing that he would put on footwear only after a new district of Balotra is created, happily went home and put on a footwear after the announcement.
The state government had set up a committee to study the demand and feasibility of new districts. While the Ram Lubhaya Committee had recommended the creation of new districts, nobody clearly expected the chief minister to announce as many as 19 new districts. The last time a new district was created in Rajasthan was 15 years ago in 2008, when Vasudhara Raje as chief minister had created Pratappur as a district.
States smaller in area like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had more districts than Rajasthan, the chief minister pointed out. In terms of area, Rajasthan is the largest state of the country, occupying 10.40 per cent of the country’s total area. With several district headquarters being 100 kilometres or more away, a large number of people were facing great inconvenience, the CM explained to justify the decision.
“The state required more districts for better governance. New districts would accelerate development and ensure better and effective governance. I also announce an initial provision of Rs 2000 crore for setting up new districts and three new divisional headquarters,” said Gehlot.
Former Chief Secretary Salauddin Ahmed welcomed the decision. “It would bring in greater efficiency in administration and would make life easier for people,” he felt. Another former Chief Secretary, C K Matthew said, “Earlier, new districts were formed on the basis of the land revenue collected from the area. But the concept has changed and more effective governance and effective delivery of public services are now the criteria,” he added.
Matthew, who has authored a book “The Historical Evolution of the District Officer”, which is rated highly by both aspiring and serving bureaucrats and administrators.
In the absence the 2021 Census, unofficial estimates put the population of the state at eight Crore and more. Till 1981, there were only 26 districts in the state when the population was barely 3.6 Crores. But in the past 42 years the number of districts went up by only five.
“Smaller districts would help people get their work done more easily, panchayats and civic bodies would be governed better and supervised more closely and law and order should improve,” said Prof SS Somara, who specialises on governance systems. New districts would also lead to new police districts and would help in crime control and also new law courts for faster delivery of justice, he added.
While chief minister Gehlot insisted that the creation of new districts is not politically motivated, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje claimed that the state’s finances were in such poor state that new districts would impose greater burden on finances of the state. Several thousand Crores would be required to create offices, police stations, courts and the government should have paid more attention to more urgent sectors.
The following new districts will be carved out of the existing districts, mentioned within brackets: Balotra (Barmer), Beawar (Ajmer), Kekri (Ajmer), Anupgarh (Ganganagar), Didwana (Nagaur), Kuchaman (Nagaur), Deeg (Bharatpur), Dudu (Jaipur), Gangapur City (Sawaimadhopur), Jaipur North (New district), Jaipur South(New district), (Kotputli, Bahror (Jaipur district), Khairthal (Alwar), Neemkathana (Sikar), Phalodi (Jodhpur), Salumbar (Udaipur), Sanchore (Jalore), Jodhpur East New District, Jodhpur West (New district) and Shahpura (Bhilwara). Three new divisions, namely Banswara, Pali and Sikar were also announced on Friday.