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Dispur sets new districts ball rolling

Guwahati, Feb. 21: The Assam government will conduct a survey for creation of new districts and civil sub-divisions in the state.

A group of ministers constituted by the state government to examine the demands for new districts and sub-divisions has directed the deputy commissioners to conduct a survey to ascertain the legitimacy of the demands and submit a report to them.

Assam revenue and disaster management minister Prithibi Majhi, who is the chairman of the group of ministers, told The Telegraph today that the deputy commissioners of the districts concerned had been asked to carry out the survey to see whether the demands for new districts and sub-divisions fulfilled the criteria laid down by the state government.

A meeting of the group of ministers held at Dispur this morning under Majhi’s chairmanship asked the deputy commissioners to submit their reports within one-and-a-half months.

For creation of a new district, there should be a minimum population of 10 lakh and four lakh for a sub-division.

However, in case of a hill district, the minimum population shall be two lakh.

“Among other criteria, there shall be at least two circle and block development offices each in the proposed district area, besides at least one police station,” Majhi said.

There are demands for creation of six new districts and 48 sub-divisions in the state. Currently, there are 28 districts and 58 sub-divisions.

There are demands for new districts by carving out Hatsingimari in Dhubri district, Bokajan in Karbi Anglong, Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar, Hojai in Nagaon, Charaideo in Sivasagar and Biswanth in Sonitpur.

Majhi said it will be a long-drawn process and today they only took the initial step by asking the deputy commissioners to carry out the survey. “After we receive the reports, it will take two to three sittings for us to prepare our final report,” he added.

Apart from Majhi, agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka and planning and development minister Tanka Bahadur Rai were present at the meeting.

The other members of the group of ministers — PWD minister Ajanta Neog, hills area development minister Khor Singh Engti, health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, power minister Pradyut Bordoloi, panchayat and rural development minister Rakibul Hussain and food and civil supplies minister Nazrul Islam were not present at the meeting.

An official source said the final decision on creation of new districts and sub-divisions was unlikely to be made before the Lok Sabha polls, as the whole process was a time-consuming one.

“But the state government is trying to expedite the process as far as possible so that they can at least include the assurance to create new districts and sub-divisions in the ruling party’s election manifesto for the parliamentary election,” the source said.

Reacting to the demands for new districts and sub-divisions, chief minister Tarun Gogoi had announced in March last year that the big districts of the state such as Nagaon and Sonitpur would be split into smaller districts to ensure better administration.

A similar exercise would be initiated in some sub-divisions to carve out new ones, as population growth had warranted creation of more districts and subdivisions.