SRINAGAR: About five months after creation of new administrative units and barely as much time left for the Assembly elections, the state government has initiated the process of setting up more administrative units in the areas “left out” in the initial phase of controversial policy of “taking administration to the grassroots levels”.
The committee constituted earlier this month by the government to examine the “feasibility and demand” for creation of the new units has tasked Deputy Commissioners in the state to inform public in their respective districts about the government’s intention of creating new units. Subsequently, the Deputy Commissioners shall be receiving the demands for the units from public, and submit their reports to the committee.
“The decision was taken in the first meeting of the committee held on Friday last. The Commissioners have been given 10 days to collect the demands, and by July 2 they will have to submit reports to Divisional Commissioners and then to the committee,” officials in the Revenue Department said.
“The committee will consider the reports and subsequently recommend or refuse the setting up of admin units in a particular area,” they added.
In February, the government had sanctioned setting up of 659 new admin units in Kashmir, Jammu, and Ladakh regions of the state. The units included 46 sub-divisions, 135 tehsils, 177 CD blocks, and 301 niabats.
The “historic” move, as ruling National Conference has described it, has, however, proved controversial on many accounts; it is being criticised for the estimated cost of Rs 1500-1600 crore the creation of 659 units is going to incur upon the cash-starved state; many experts have raised fingers at the motivation to create more units rather than mending the pre-existing ones for effective governance; and questions have been also raised over, what are suspected to be, political reasons that got less-populated Jammu more units than Kashmir valley.
The government—it had already stated that the creation was done to make “administration effective by taking it to the grassroots level”—responded to the concerns with silence. And despite the criticism, the government four months later constituted the committee headed by the Financial Commissioner Industries and Commerce Department to consider demands for setting up of even more admin units.
The committee has initiated action at a time when National Conference, just months ahead of the Assembly elections expected in October-November, is keen to undo the steps that, it believes, led to its disgraceful defeat in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. The party has revoked the SMS ban, enhanced the retirement age of employees, and withdrawn the bizarre employment policy.
“The committee has started its work, and once it is completed the final report will be put before the government. Then, the Cabinet will take the final call on whether to create administrative units in the areas, which were left out in February,” officials in the Revenue Department added.