In a significant announcement in the election year, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has announced the formation of 19 new districts and three new divisions in the state, earmarking Rs 2,000 crore for infrastructure development for them.
This is the first time since 2008 that new districts have been carved out in Rajasthan, taking the number of districts in the state to 50.
Gehlot made the announcement on Friday in the Assembly, which also passed the 2023-24 budget through a voice vote.
The chief minister said a high-level committee was formed to look into the formation of new districts and it had submitted its report to the government. ”The state will now have 19 new districts,” Gehlot said during a discussion on the budget.
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The three new divisions will be in Banswara, Pali and Sikar, he added.
The chief minister proposed a budget of Rs 2,000 crore for the first phase of infrastructure and human resource development for the new districts and divisions.
Rajasthan is the biggest state in the country in terms of area and some of the places in the state are located more than 100 kilometres away from the respective district headquarters, Gehlot said.
”Small districts lead to effective administration and management, and control over law and order becomes easier. Various states have formed new districts. So there was a demand within the state for these new districts,” he added.
Rajasthan currently has 33 districts.
Jaipur has been divided into four districts while Jodhpur has been divided into three. Thus, the number of districts in the state will now be 50.
The new districts are — Anoopgarh which was a part of Ganganagar, Balotra (Barmer), Beawar (Ajmer), Kekri (Ajmer), Deeg (Bharatpur), Deedwana-Kuchaman (Nagaur), Dudu (Jaipur), Gangapur City (Sawai Madhopur), Jaipur North, Jaipur South, Jodhpur East, Jodhpur West, Kotputli-Behror (Jaipur-Alwar), Khairthal (Alwar), Neem ka Thana (Sikar), Phalodi (Jodhpur), Salumber (Udaipur), Sanchore (Jalore) and Shahpura (Bhilwara).
Four districts will be carved out from Jaipur — Jaipur North, Jaipur South, Dudu and Kotputli-Behror. Kotputli is currently a part of Jaipur, while Behror is in Alwar. In the past, several legislators had demanded that their towns be upgraded to districts. Congress MLA Madan Prajapat had declared to walk bare feet until the government announced Balotra as a new district.
While the ruling Congress has welcomed the decision to form new districts, which is also being seen as part of the party’s strategy for the upcoming Assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has raised questions on the financial feasibility of the decision.
”Due to the increasing population and large area, the government and the general public were feeling the need for new districts,” Gehlot wrote on Twitter. He said the pace of development will now be doubled.
State Congress chief Govind Singh Dotasra said the formation of new districts will accelerate growth and development.
”With the formation of the Sikar division, the development of the Shekhawati region will be speeded up and all facilities will be available to the common man,” he said, adding that it will also strengthen law and order.
Former deputy chef minister Sachin Pilot said, ”I hope this will give new direction and speed to the development of the state.” State BJP chief Satish Poonia said the Congress government had to take the decision under the pressure of public opinion.
”The people of the state will not be misled by false announcements because every section of the state is oppressed by various issues like atrocities against women, paper leak, a deteriorating law-and-order situation and a complete farm loan waiver,” he said.
Former chief minister Vasundhara Raje said important facts have been ignored in the process of creating the new districts because of which the public would have to face administrative complications.
”The new announcements of the Congress government are just an attempt to fulfil personal political interests. In this effort, the government has put the entire economic system of Rajasthan at stake, the consequences of which will have to be borne by the people of the state in the years to come,” she said.
Raje also accused Gehlot of trying to politicise the budget.
The Rajasthan Assembly polls are due by the year-end. Replying to the discussion on the budget, Gehlot also announced to start the enhanced Rs 25 lakh package of the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme from March 30. Earlier, the package was capped at Rs 10 lakh per family.
The chief minister said providing effective, transparent and sensitive administration is his government’s commitment. The state government has implemented various public welfare schemes and to ensure that the schemes reach every village and hamlet, it is required to work with full sensitivity at the district level, he said.
Gehlot also hit out at the BJP-led Centre on the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) issue, saying, ”The prime minister and the (Union) finance minister are opposing the OPS, but it will not be stopped and we will also approach the Supreme Court.” He announced the construction of a corridor at Jaipur’s Govinddevji temple on the lines of Ujjain’s Mahakal temple and said Rs 100 crore would be spent on it.
The chief minister announced the preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) for an uplift of famous temples such as Tripura Sundari, Sanvaliyaji, Salasar, Khole ke Hanuman, Tanot Mata and Shrinathji.