Behind Mamata's new districts move: TMC weak spots, Panchayat polls, decentralisation

Announcing her cabinet's latest decision, CM Mamata Banerjee said it was aimed to streamline and decentralise administrative operations.

Since coming to power in West Bengal in 2011 after ending the CPM-led Left Front’s continuous 34-year-long reign, the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress (TMC) government has cleared the creation of 11 new districts so far, including seven approved by the Banerjee cabinet Monday, which has taken the total number of districts in the state to 30.

Announcing her cabinet’s latest decision, CM Banerjee said it was aimed to streamline and decentralise administrative operations. “We will set up these seven new districts within six months, it involves some process,” she said.

The TMC government’s decision has however sparked a political row, with the Opposition parties, the BJP, Congress and CPM, castigating it.

According to the CM, seven new districts will be carved out of five existing districts — Murshidabad, Nadia, South and North 24 Parganas, and Bankura. Two new districts of Kandi and Jangipur will be carved out of Murshidabad district. Nadia will be split into Ranaghat and Nadia districts. A new Sundarban district will be created out of South 24 Parganas district. Two new districts, Basirhat and Ichhamati (Bangaon), will be carved out of North 24 Parganas. And Bankura will be divided into two districts, Bankura and Bishnupur.

Top state government officials said the move will improve governance. A senior IAS officer said, “It is a general trend in India now to create more districts to decentralise administration. Since the 1971 Census, the average district size is getting smaller. As per the 1981 Census, India had only 412 districts that increased to 640 in 2011. A new district means a new administrative machinery set-up. That will give better implementation of government schemes and proper fund utilisation. A new district would bring administration closer to the local people.”

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