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Only 9 new districts have been formed in 75 years, why is West Bengal lagging behind

West Bengal Less Districts: A large population of the country lives in West Bengal, but the number of districts here is very less. More than seven and a half percent of the country’s people live in West Bengal, but less than three percent of the country’s districts are in West Bengal.

The Government of West Bengal has approved the creation of 7 new districts in the state. The cabinet of Mamta Banerjee government had approved the proposal for formation of 7 new districts in August. At present there are 23 districts in West Bengal and after the formation of 7 new districts, there will be a total of 30 districts.

Fewer districts than Lok Sabha seats

You would be surprised to know that the number of districts in West Bengal is very less as compared to other big states. The surprising thing is that if we talk about the ratio of Lok Sabha seats, then the ratio of the number of districts in West Bengal is very less. If you understand from the figures, Uttar Pradesh has the maximum number of Lok Sabha seats in the country. There are total 75 districts in Uttar Pradesh. After this, Maharashtra has the maximum number of Lok Sabha seats. There are a total of 48 Lok Sabha seats and 36 districts.

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Bihar has 40 Lok Sabha seats and 38 districts. Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha seats and 38 districts. Madhya Pradesh has only 29 Lok Sabha seats, but has a total of 55 districts. In Andhra Pradesh also the number of districts is more than the Lok Sabha seats. There are only 25 seats in the Lok Sabha, but the number of districts is 26. Now talking about West Bengal, this state is on the third position in terms of Lok Sabha seats. There are a total of 42 Lok Sabha seats in West Bengal, but only 23 districts.

Barring West Bengal, a trend emerges from the numbers of Lok Sabha and districts in big states. More or less in every big state there is a number of districts around the Lok Sabha seats. In some states like Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, the number of districts is more than the Lok Sabha seats. In Madhya Pradesh, the number of districts is almost double the number of Lok Sabha seats.

Rest of the states made new districts fast.

In November 2000, Chhattisgarh was carved out of Madhya Pradesh as a separate state. Before the formation of Chhattisgarh, there were a total of 61 districts in Madhya Pradesh. Out of these 16 districts were separated to form Chhattisgarh. That is, after the separation of Chhattisgarh, a total of 45 districts remained in Madhya Pradesh in 2000. In the last 22 years, 11 new districts were formed in Madhya Pradesh and now there are a total of 55 districts. At the time of existence in 2000, there were only 16 districts in Chhattisgarh, whose number has now increased to 33. It is clear that in the last 22 years, 17 new districts were formed in Chhattisgarh. In this way, the number of districts has increased rapidly in other big states as well.

In the last 21 years, 187 new districts were formed in the country.

Talking about the whole country, the number of districts in India has been increasing from time to time. In 2001, there used to be a total of 593 districts in the country. In 2011 there were total 640 districts in India and in 2022 the number of districts will increase to 780. That is, in the last 11 years, a total of 140 new districts have been created in the country.

Mathematics of less districts in West Bengal

One thing is clear from the analysis of all these figures that the number of districts in West Bengal is very less. West Bengal is the fourth largest populated state in the country. More population than this is only in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar. Talking about the area, Bihar is at number 12 and West Bengal at number 13. West Bengal is only a little smaller than Bihar in terms of size and population, but there is a vast difference in the number of districts. The question arises why there are so few districts in West Bengal.

Only 9 districts were formed in West Bengal in 75 years

When India got independence in 1947, the state of West Bengal was formed according to the partition plan of the then Bengal province of British India. At that time the state of West Bengal was formed with 14 districts. That is, in 75 years after independence, the population of West Bengal increased more than four times, but the number of districts increased only by 9. In other big states, with the increase in population, there was a rapid increase in the number of districts. You will be surprised to know that in 2011 the population of West Bengal was more than 9 crores, which is estimated to be more than 11 crores till now.

Interestingly, till June 24, 2014, despite having 42 Lok Sabha seats, the state had only 19 districts. In 2017, this number increased to 23, which is the same at present. That is, no new district could be formed in the last five years. After the formation of 7 new districts, their number will be 30. The names of the 7 new districts that are going to be formed in the future are Behrampur, Kandi, Sundarbans, Basirhat, Ichhamati, Ranaghat and Vishnupur.

On an average 40 lakh people are forced to live in every district

On an average, more than 40 lakh people live in every district of West Bengal. West Bengal ranks first in terms of average population in every district in the country. Administrative matters experts believe that the ideal population for a district should be around 20 lakhs. Bengal is the second most densely populated state after Bihar. Considering the population of West Bengal, there should be at least 50 districts. It is worth noting that some neighboring states of less populated West Bengal also have more districts. There are 35 districts in Assam and 30 in Odisha.

Who has the right to form a district?

The right to form a district rests entirely with the state government. Generally new districts are formed to make administrative work easier. The state government can create a new district either by passing a law from the Legislature or through an executive order. An interesting aspect in this is that the state government has to take approval from the High Court of that state to create new districts.

The reason for this is that lower courts have to be set up in new districts. However, once the state government decides to create new districts, then there is no problem in getting approval from the High Court. The central government has no role in the formation of a new district. If the name of a district is to be changed, then the central government has a role in it. The request related to this has to be sent to many departments of the Central Government and no objection certificate has to be taken from those departments.

People benefit from small districts

State governments keep on forming new districts from time to time. It is believed that the smaller the administrative unit, the easier it will be to handle the administration and it will be convenient to deliver administrative services to the people of that district. Sometimes new districts are formed due to the demand of the local people and also for political reasons. In April 2022, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy formed 13 new districts. There is decentralization of power with smaller administrative units and this helps in making governance better and transparent.

Why more districts could not be formed in West Bengal

The way other states continuously formed new districts for administrative convenience, this work should have been done in West Bengal on the same lines. Despite this, the state governments have not taken much interest in the formation of new districts since independence in West Bengal. There have been many reasons behind this. The resentment of the local people is a big issue for the state government. Locals in West Bengal also associate it with an identity crisis.

The areas of West Bengal have had special importance in the independence of the country. The people here are also very serious about their heritage. Whenever the state government talks about creating new districts, the people of the districts from which the new district has to be cut, consider it an attack on their heritage and culture. Many people argue that every area has its own historical importance and the formation of a new district reduces its importance.

Politics is also responsible for fewer districts in Bengal

Politics has been a big factor in West Bengal having fewer districts. Veteran leaders of every region have been worried that the formation of new districts will harm their vote bank base. Since independence, there has also been political opposition to any attempt to create new districts in West Bengal. Political opposition is more from the opposition parties. Sometimes the leaders of the ruling party also raise their voice against the formation of new district.

New districts put a burden on the exchequer

In the case of West Bengal, the impact on the exchequer is also a big reason for not creating new districts. West Bengal is not counted among the rich states. There is already a huge debt burden on Bengal. In such a situation, the financial burden of the state increases due to the formation of new districts. The West Bengal government will have to spend at least Rs 200 crore to make each district. Due to this difficulty also, the pace of formation of new districts in West Bengal has been very slow.

7 new districts to be formed in West Bengal in 6 months

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is now seen in a tough mood to increase the number of districts in the state. Mamta Banerjee is the Chief Minister since 2011. In the last few years, he has said many times that considering the size and population of Bengal, there is a need to increase the number of districts to make administrative work easier. Moving forward on this aspect, his government decided to create 7 new districts in August, which will be implemented gradually in the next 6 months. Nadia to Ranaghat, Murshidabad district to Behrampur and Jangipur, Bankura to Bishnupur and Ichhamati districts. On the other hand, Sunderbans districts will be formed from South 24 Parganas and Basirhat districts from North 24 Parganas.

Protests have also started in the districts from where new districts are to be carved out. Especially the people of Nadia and Murshidabad are calling it tampering with a place of historical importance. In some places, people are also protesting against the government by terming it as a threat to heritage and demanding withdrawal of the decision to create new districts.

Read this also: Exclusive: ‘Time has come to implement Uniform Civil Code’, Rajnath Singh told abp news in Gujarat

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