*Report to be submitted to CM today, NC Core Group to meet prior to Cabinet
JAMMU, Jan 31: The Cabinet Sub Committee (CSC) on new administrative units in its meeting that went on till midnight tonight recommended creation of about 659 new administrative units in Jammu and Kashmir including sub divisions, tehsils, blocks and niabats and made all 4098 Panchayats in the State co-terminus with patwar halqas, which means every Panchayat would have a patwar.
Official sources told the Excelsior late midnight tonight that the CSC, which had a marathon meeting for nearly six and a half hours today under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister and veteran Congress leader Tara Chand, recommended creation of 46 new sub divisions, 131 tehsils, 178 CD blocks and 304 niabats in the State apart from making all 4098 Panchayats (2145 in Kashmir division and 1953 in Jammu division) co-terminus with patwar halqas.
“As there were about 2000 patwar halqas in Jammu and Kashmir, the State would have to create over 2000 more patwar halqas to give one patwar to every Panchayat,” sources said but added that the patwar halqa can’t be described as an administrative unit as it would have only one patwari and no other officer.
Sources said the CSC has incorporated all administrative units including sub divisions, tehsils, CD blocks and niabats recommended by Mushtaq Ahmad Ganaie Commission apart from making its own recommendations on the administrative units. The CSC, however, excluded all patwar halqas recommended by the Ganaie Commission and decided that all Panchayats would have a patwar halqa, which would take total number of patwar halqas to 4098 (equal to the number of Panchayats) in the State.
The Ganaie Commission had recommended 222 administrative units (excluding patwar halqas) while the CSC has approved 437 administrative units (other than patwar halqas) taking total number of units recommended to 659.
The CSC meeting was held in cordial atmosphere and there was no acrimony. All seven members of the CSC unanimously approved the new administrative units and the decision to make Panchayats co-terminus with patwar halqas, sources said.
Since the CSC didn’t have mandate to recommend new districts, it has suggested creation of eight new districts on the basis of representations received by its from across the State.
The CSC, which initially met from 2.45 pm to 7 pm and then from 10 pm to 12.10 am, adopted terrain, population, backwardness and connectivity as the criteria for recommending new administrative units, sources said. The CSC headed by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand comprised PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister Sham Lal Sharma and Urban Development Minister Rigzin Jora, all from Congress, Higher Education Minister Mohammad Akbar Lone, Planning and Development Minister Ajay Sadhotra and Law & Parliamentary Affairs Minister Saifullah Mir, all from National Conference and Agriculture Minister GH Mir from JKDPN, an associate member of the Congress.
Sources said the CSC would again meet at 12.30 pm tomorrow and sign the report, which is being prepared by Revenue Secretary Vinod Koul and seek the time from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah for a meeting to brief him on findings of the Panel and submit him the report. The report would be either submitted to Omar in the meeting or in the Cabinet meeting scheduled for 2 pm tomorrow at the Civil Secretariat.
“Tomorrow’s Cabinet meeting would be very crucial from the administrative units point of view,” sources said.
Omar, who was in New Delhi for past two days, would be reaching here at 11 am by IndiGo flight. The National Conference Core Group would meet at 11.30 am at the Chief Minister’s residence to discuss future strategy vis-a-vis CSC recommendations.
The NC Core Group comprised Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather, Rural Development Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar, Transport and CAPD Minister Choudhary Mohammad Ramzan, Planning and Development Minister Ajay Sadhotra, party’s provincial president Devender Singh Rana and former Minister Surjit Singh Slathia.
Sources said the Core Group would take a decision on the CSC recommendations before the Cabinet meeting.
The Congress Ministers in the coalition Government would also meet simultaneously at the Guest House to devise their strategy.
Akbar Lone told the Excelsior that the CSC report had to be submitted to the Cabinet tomorrow at any cost and that was why “we sat till midnight tonight”. He said: “there was no question to remain in the Government unless we get new administrative units implemented even if we had to quit. We don’t want to anger the Chief Minister”.
Mr Lone clarified that the patwar halqas are not an administrative unit. “Though we have recommended a patwar halqa for every Panchayat, they have been excluded from the new units,” he said.
Though the CSC had no mandate on making recommendations for creation of new districts (as it had been tasked to identity creation of new sub divisions, tehsils, blocks, niabats and patwar halqas), it has suggested creation of eight new districts in Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of representations received from the people.
The new districts suggested by the CSC included two districts carving out of Jammu including Akhnoor-Chhamb and RS Pura-Suchetgarh-Bishnah (border district), one district carving out of Reasi and Ramban including Gool-Arnas-Mahore-Gulabgarh, one district in Rajouri comprising Sunderbani-Kalakote-Nowshera and one district out of Kathua including Bani-Basohli-Billawar, all in Jammu province, two districts in Kashmir including one in Anantnag and another between Baramulla-Kupwara and one district in Ladakh between Leh and Kargil.
Sources clarified that the creation of new districts was purely a suggestion by the CSC and not recommendation as it didn’t have the mandate to recommend new district. The CSC preferred to forward the suggestion on creation of new districts based on representation received by it from the people during its tour of different parts of the State.
In 2007, the then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had created eight new districts in the State-four each in Jammu and Kashmir regions.
Sources said the CSC on administrative units today met and held threadbare discussions on the recommendations of the Ganaie Committee report as well as representations received from cross sections of the society belonging to different regions and sub-regions of the State.
Minister for Urban Development and Urban Local bodies Nawang Rigzin Jora, Minister for PHE and Flood Control Sham Lal Sharma, Minister for Agriculture Ghulam Hassan Mir, Minister for Higher Education, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Minister for Planning & Development and Labour & Employment Ajay Sadhotra and Minister for Law, Justice and Parliament Affairs, Mir Saifullah attended the meeting, which was chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand.
The Panel comprised three Ministers each from Alliance partner-National Conference and Congress and Ghulam Hassan Mir from DPN, who happened to be an associate member of the Congress.
Secretary Revenue, Vinod Koul was also present in the meeting.
The CSC held a marathon meeting in which the full bench participated and gave their valuable suggestions on the mandate of setting up of new administrative units.
The Deputy Chief Minister said that the recommendations of Ganaie Committee, which is an extension of SS Bloeria Committee, were discussed threadbare, sources said, adding that additional demands which were earlier not considered by the Ganaie Committee and were projected before the CSC by people from all the three regions were also discussed.
Tara Chand said while finalizing the report of the CSC, the Committee has kept in mind the population, terrain, backwardness and connectivity as broader parameters for setting up new administrative units. The Committee would present the finalized report of CSC before the Cabinet tomorrow.
New units recommended by CSC
Sub Divisions 46
CD Blocks 178
Patwar Halqas 4098 (nearly 2000 of which already existed)