Many questions have been raised at the government’s decision to create new administrative units (districts, tehsils, blocks etc) in Jammu and Kashmir at a time when the state is confronted with financial hardships and looming Parliament and Assembly elections. Since the government has not only not made public but also ignored the Bleoria Commission and the Ganaie Commission reports on delimitation and new administrative units, and instead constituted a Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) of a group of powerful ministers to decide on the issue, the decision seems to be a poll stunt aimed to benefit the political parties in power.
The haste with which the National Conference-Congress government, headed by Omar Abdullah, has set up the CSC, ostensibly also for feedback from all the three regions, that too within a week’s time, has also created doubts the genuineness of the exercise.
The present dispensation, which has completed five years in office and is already in poll-mode, announcing sops day-in and day-out, seems to have totally ignored the financial and other implications of the decision.
J&K is already in a crisis situation, and is struggling to meet its expenses and plan deadlines – at times even unable to pay its salary bills. Time and again it is seen knocking on doors in New Delhi for financial assistance, with little effort to raise its own revenue and resources. Is it wise of the government to insist on creating these new units without assessing its implications, both financial and logistical? Rulers here have a history of sacrificing the state’s larger interests and long-term goals for their personal and political benefits. The decision seems to be simply a case of history being repeated.
How does the government aim to meet the manpower and infrastructure requirements of these new administrative units when the districts created in 2006 are still underdeveloped with very few facilities available? It should have been the priority of government to make those districts fully functional with adequate staff and infrastructure before embarking on a fresh administrative adventure.
The decision may bring votes for a few ministers and politicians, but it will also create rifts and divides between people on regional and other basis. Before going taking the final irrevocable step, the government should hold wide-ranging public consultation, and come up with a white paper on what the decision would entail. The case should be decided purely on merits.