Political, Not Administrative – (II)

Picking up from where these columns left off on Tuesday, another priceless gem from the Cabinet Sub Committee report on new administrative units depicts the government’s tearing hurry, and implicitly its motives, in ramming more government down the throat of the cash-starved state.

According to the document, the Mushtaq Ganai Committee submitted its report to the government in July 2011; the report was placed before the Cabinet in July 2013, that is, after two full years. And suddenly, there was a flurry of activity. A Cabinet Sub Committee was formed that very month, perhaps that very day, “to work out modalities” to implement the report, and “take on fresh demands on this account.”

And presto! What had been kept hanging for 24 months, and was resurrected virtually on the eve of an election year, was not only rushed through within a span of about six months, but also multiplied by a factor of three. A remarkable feat indeed, considering that it had taken two successive teams of trained bureaucrats almost since 2007 to come to the modest base-line of 2011. What wonders politicians can work.

Definitely unwittingly, the CSC has also revealed the government’s superficial understanding of the whole exercise of creating new administrative units. The major term of reference, and guiding principle, for the Mushtaq Ganai Committee reads as follows:

“While making recommendations the Committee shall ensure that the distance between two Sub Divisional Headquarters (from Bus Stand to Bus Stand) should be atleast 25 Kms. Similarly, the distance between two Tehsil Headquarters (from Bus stand to Bus stand) should be at least 20 Kms and the distance between two Niabat Headquarters should be at least 15 Kms (from Bus stand to Bus stand). The distance between block headquarters should not be less than 15 Kms (from Bus stand to bus stand).”

This following afterthought should serve as an apt indication of the government’s penetrating intellect:

Provided that instead sticking to the distance parameter, the Committee may take into consideration the population density factor and local terrain/accessibility in such exceptional cases, wherein it is satisfied that there are sufficient and justified for creation of new administrative units.” (emphasis added)

Obviously, the government’s idea of what should govern the criteria for new administrative units merits no further comment, but  can one help observing that the Cabinet Sub Committee found nearly 450 such exceptional cases  within months with the help of “State Aircraft and Choppers” provided by “Hon’ble Chief Minister” in the dead of winter.

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