Updated: May 15, 2022 9:38:40 am
The Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, has made a pitch for the creation of more districts in the state in order to “expedite development works”.
“We want more districts to accelerate development works in West Bengal. We need at least 46 districts as against existing 23. When we increase the number of districts, we will have to deploy more officers. Therefore, we will have to increase the vacancies of West Bengal Civil Service (WBCS)-cadre officers,” Banerjee said while addressing the annual general meeting of the WBCS-executive officers in Kolkata Thursday.
The Banerjee government has already declared its proposal to split large districts such as North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, and East Midnapore into smaller districts. Sources said seven districts could be carved out of South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas.
To improve its public outreach and ensure better delivery of its schemes to the people, the state government has been contemplating the move to form more districts through division of the larger districts (in terms of area). It believes that with a new administration to be set up in proposed smaller districts, the people would have easier access to various government departments and their officials at the district level and would be thus able to avail its schemes and policies more effectively.
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The Banerjee government’s proposed move is also aimed at improving the law and order situation in Bengal as the state administration is of the view that the creation of more districts will help the state police in focusing on their operating areas more efficiently, which would also ensure better surveillance.
Recently, the state has witnessed a rise in violence in the form of incidents like rape, murder and political killings. This has put its law and order situation under the scanner, with questions being raised on the role of the state police. The government has been seeking to change this narrative with better policing.
Politically, the creation of more districts would help the TMC dispensation in accelerating the party’s expansion and broadbasing its leadership at the district level, leading to its streamlining and rejuvenation. This would also help the party curb infighting among its district leaders, who are perennially caught up in a power game for taking control of the local organisation.
The carving of more districts is also envisaged to yield electoral dividends for the TMC. It would enable the party to have a region-specific and more focused approach towards elections. The attendant expansion of bureaucracy with the creation of more government posts in administration and police force would lead to generation of more jobs, which would boost the ruling party’s poll prospects.
After coming to power in Bengal in the 2011 polls, the Banerjee government, which is now into its third successive term, has created five new districts in the state so far. Bengal has currently 23 districts, which include Alipurduar district (formed on June 25, 2014), Kalimpong district (formed on February 14, 2017), Jhargram district (formed on April 4, 2017), and Purba Bardhaman district and Paschim Bardhaman district (formed on April 7, 2017).
The government has also increased the number of police districts in the state, which currently has 28 police districts and 6 police commissionerates. It is currently also engaged in groundwork on a proposal to trifurcate South 24-Parganas, the state’s largest district, to create the new districts of Baruipur, Sundarbans and Diamond Harbour.
The principal Opposition BJP welcomed the TMC government’s move to create more districts, but criticised it for delaying it. “We always spoke in favour of having more districts. We feel that a total of 42 districts should be created for 42 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. The creation of more districts should have been done earlier. What stopped the government from doing so? It is because more districts means more government officials and the government paying more salaries,” said BJP national vice-president Dilip Ghosh.
TMC spokesperson Kunal Ghosh, however, said, “The government is doing what it is supposed to do. This is a good decision taken by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee which will definitely help usher in development in a much easier manner.”
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