Uniform guidelines need of hour for creation of new Districts
AP New Districts: A notification is issued today for creation of 13 more districts in addition to already existing equal number of districts. The model adopted is innovative. Government broadly synchronized with territorial constituency of Lok Sabha. It is noteworthy that there is no serious lobbying for creation of new districts because Government in advance announced that it will take Lok Sabha territorial constituency as the basis. It is a clever move to avoid unnecessary pulls and pressures.
The average population for existing 13 districts is around 38 lakhs where as proposed increase of districts will bring down the average population per district around 19 lakhs. It is still above the national average of 16.77 lakhs. Now days, it has become regular practice to increase number of districts abnormally irrespective of its size of population. Neighbouring Telangana State increased its districts from 10 to 33 though its population is comparably lesser. Its average population per district is 11.35 lakhs.
There is a feeling that more number of districts will yield more funds from Planning Commission which is partially true. Though Centre may provide some funds on the basis of District as unit, the more number of districts will incur additional burden to State exchequer for additional infrastructure , manpower etc. It is true that size of district is very large in some districts. It is also true that it is very small in certain States like Chattisgarh and Telangana. There is reason to exclude North Eastern and Hill States as well as Adivasi areas. But mainland States are also adopting the same criterion may be to play with gallery and to satisfy their vote bank politics.
It is high time to evolve uniform guidelines by Central Government before it reaches uncontrollable levels. The present scenario reveals wide disparity from State to State. For example, West Bengal is highly centralized the district pattern with average population of 40 lakhs per district, all the figures of 2011 census whereas States like Haryana is having 11.52 lakhs; Telangana 11.35 lakhs and Chattisgarh 9.46 lakhs. Many States vary in between. Then, how Planning Commission will take district as unit? If there are no Central funds involved, the matter could be left to States. It is part of governance. Let there must be uniform guidelines or let there be debate on the size of district.
What is the criterion adopted by AP Government?
AP Government broadly adopted Lok Sabha territorial constituency to create new districts. AP State is having 25 Lok Sabha constituencies. Now AP Government notifies for 26 districts. One Lok Sabha constituency exclusively dominated by Adivasis is now divided into two constituencies because of large geographical area. The remaining 24 Lok Sabha constituencies are taken as one district unit and created new districts. That is the reason; the numbers of new districts are 26. Of course, it tweaked the constituencies in some areas taking the public feedback into consideration but it did not disturb Assembly constituencies. This model looks better alternative. It broadly synchronised with territorial constituency of Lok Sabha by that planning of development will also be sychronised. Whenever there is delimitation, review of district structure could also be reviewed. Second, there is some basis to adopt at all India level to follow this pattern.
As on now, there are 729 districts in the country before the proposed increase of districts in AP. Out of these, 100 are situated in North East and another 47 in Hill districts. If we exempt all these as special category, there are 582 districts in Mainland for which we must adopt a uniform criterion. There are 112 aspirational districts identified by NITI Ayog. When we are planning for sustainable goals, we must clean up the system first. It is high time that NITI Ayog should come out with uniform guidelines on structure of districts in the country. The model created by AP State taking the Lok Sabha constituency as the basis can be considered as one of the good governance models. Hope, there will be initiation of debate on this subject.
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