A new map for Telangana

A new map for Telangana

Submitted by alvin on Thu, 2016-10-20 10:44 This Dasara, people of Telanagana got a unique gift from their Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. After two and a half years of existence, the youngest state of India got 21 new districts. And with their creation, the Telangana Rashtra Samiti fulfilled its pending election promise. Though the gift pleased many, it also made several others furious, with the anger resulting in one suicide. While the agitation for more districts and demand to reconsider the reorganisation of mandals had been growing in the state, the newly formed districts are struggling with many issues, which are hindering the smooth functioning of administrative machinery. After bifurcation, Telangana had 10 districts. During 2014 polls, the TRS had promised to form 14 new districts. But the cabinet sub-committee, which was formed to facilitate the reorganisation of districts, recommended the formation 17 new districts in its report. Based on the report a draft notification was also issued. But, bowing to public and political pressure, the government increased the number of districts to 21. To make sure the new administrative units start functioning on the same day, an amendment was carried out in a hurry. Being the religious man that he is, KCR unveiled the new map of Telangana, containing 31 districts, on Vijayadashmi. Though the reorganisation was expected, the increase in the number of districts has surprised many. In fact, Telangana now has more districts than undivided Andhra Pradesh. A few districts were divided into as many as four parts. The sudden increase from a mere 10 to 31 at one go (more than three times), with no preparedness, has put the administrative machinery in difficulty. Along with new districts, the state government has also created 25 new revenue mandals, four new police commissionerates further increasing the burden. It is estimated that the creation of each new district requires Rs100 crore, mainly for developing infrastructure including new office buildings, housing for officials, vehicles etc, which means that Rs2,700 crores should be allocated for this purpose. Apart from the money, there is the requirement of more staff, replication of official documents, and transfers – all of which will take a long time to be completed. The major problem is the shortage of officials, both in administrative and police services. Unlike other states, Telangana doesn’t have a state public service commission which can act as feeder. So, the government has appointed junior officers, who are from the 2012 batch, as collectors and SPs. In normal circumstances, these officials would have taken 8 to 10 years to reach such positions. A few feel that the inexperience of junior officers might jeopardise the effective functioning of the district administration. At the moment, the new offices are temporarily being setup in the available buildings. Many schools, colleges, training institutions and hostels are being used as new offices. A few officers are travelling from nearby places, as they are yet to find a residence. Creation of districts was made on war footing, but it will take a long time to put the administration on track. The state, which is still recovering from the aftermath of bifurcation process, has a tough task ahead. Even though the chief minister has clearly said that there would not be any more new districts in the state, protests and agitation demanding more new districts and reorganization of mandals are intensifying in a few parts. The government has the challenge of tackling this situation as well.    That smaller states facilitate effective administration was the basic reasoning behind the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The same logic has been applied in the reorganisation of districts too. But the sheer number of new districts is being criticised by many, including the opposition parties, who are accusing KCR of dividing districts keeping political gain in mind rather than efficient administration. This accusation is not completely baseless, as KCR succumbed to pressure and created 4 additional districts even after issuing the notification. Dividing the state into small divisions is being considered by many as a political move which will help in accommodating party leaders. Along with that, small district units will weaken the power of district officials, resulting in the centralisation of power in the state capital. So the move to reorganise the state — which might look like a decision taken with decentralisation of power in mind — might actually throw up an opposite result. So, it remains to be seen how Telangana performs with its new map.