H C Katoch
Setting up of delimitation Commission by New Delhi has fulfilled the long awaited demand of Jammu region. In the past, the previous State Governments also appointed Commissions to demarcate boundaries of the state to achieve administrative convenience for governance. Amongst these Wazir Commission and Bloeria Commission were appointed in this behalf. Justices K.K. Gupta commission was to delimit the constituencies and add to existing constituencies for giving political representation to both the regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
The study of the report of Wazir Commission reveals the parameters like, 1. Public conveniences. 2. Administration exigencies. 3. Co existence of administrative units, police, blocks for effective administration. 4. The population that could not get the benefits of development programmes through single line administration.
In case of Bloeria Commission the parameters spelt out were based on official records and field visits. These were specifically narrated to consider the parameters like, 1. Minimizing the inconvenience otherwise caused to the people of the affected areas in reaching the administration and vice versa. 2. Existence of any natural boundaries like roads, rivers, mountains etc. 3. Kind and level of economic activity of the area and the impact the demarcation of boundary will have on it. 4. Status of road connectivity/ communication. 5. The present level as also future trend of urbanization, and obviously, the ability of providing civic amenities by the Local Bodies to that particular area.
The above commissions dealt with the demarcation of boundaries of the administrative units only and could be utilized for forming constituencies in a way that would be homogenous and in contiguity for both administrative setup and political convenience to the public.
It was Justice K.K. Gupta Commission that was appointed for delimitation of constituencies. Population census of 1981 was adopted to work out the number of constituencies. J&K representation of the People’s Act 1957 was considered to support the findings along with the consultations with representatives of public/ politicians. Further, the parameters adopted were, 1. Geographical conditions, topography, vastness of area. 2. Difficult terrain. 3. Communication. & 4. Density of population.
In case of all the Commissions appointed either for demarcation of boundaries or for delimitation of constituencies, the parameters adopted were not supported through any formulae using mathematical / statistical tools to prove the results of the exercise conducted in this behalf. As such the recommendations were subjective and can be prejudicial. This generated distrust in delimitation of the constituencies and demarcation of boundaries in the state.
The Election Commission in its document in Para V mentioned the provisions namely, 1.All the constituencies shall be single-member constituencies. 2. All constituencies shall as far as practicable be geographically compact areas and in delimiting them regard shall be have to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and conveniences to the public and. 3. Constituencies in which seats are reserved for the scheduled castes and the scheduled Tribes shall as far practicable be located in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest.
If we enumerate the above parameters in simplified and objectively understand the essence, these can be put in specific terms like, 1. Geographically compact areas. 2. Physical features. 3. Existing Boundaries of administration. 4. Communications. & 5. Conveniences.
These provisions demand quantification for assessment of the formation of constituencies in Jammu and Kashmir. When we dwell upon the first provision of the geographically compact area, we have instances to indicate that this practice was not adopted in the previous Commissions. There was absolutely no compactness of the sample areas which fell apart both geographically and from the point of view of administrative units. Similarly physical features, facilities and conveniences were not considered in the context of determination of the constituency.
Attempt has been made to use these parameters to work out the number of constituencies separately for Jammu and Kashmir regions. Area is the base for every economic activity and every type of development process. Population acts upon this area for establishing institutions of all kinds for social, economic, religious and growth of national income etc. Thus, these are two main factors and we assigned equal weights. Although, the population count is controversial right from the census of 1961 till the census of 2011 in view of different factors like migration of Kashmiri Pandit community, abnormal decadal growth of population in some districts of Kashmir and declining growth rate in districts of Jammu division. Beside this, there had been no post enumeration check of population count in the entire census conducted so far. These facts were narrated in an article published in Daily Exerciser on 21.09.2003 by the author (H.C.Katoch). This population count weighs abnormally in favour of Kashmir division. Hope the next census of 2021 shall take cognizance of the above factors.
In the weightage pattern, population has been assigned 30, geographical area 30 followed by communication and conveniences 20 each. The geographical area takes care of the physical features like: – mountains, kandi, border, plateau and plains etc. The communication broadly takes care of network of the roads as the major indicator and the conveniences involve the public welfare, ranging from health to other sectors like production of agriculture and horticulture produce etc. The detailed exercise for delimitation of constituencies with the parameters like, area, Jammu Division comprises 26000 sq. km as against 16000 sq. km of Kashmir Division. Using these figures for calculating share of the constituencies numbering 90 for the whole state the share of Jammu Division comes to 56 and that of Kashmir 34. The variable factor of population worked out on the basis of 2011 census for these 90 constituencies gives 50 constituencies to Kashmir as against 40 constituencies for Jammu. In case of communication where road connectivity is used as prominent factor Jammu gets 49 and Kashmir 41. In case of the 4th parameter Jammu gets 48 and Kashmir 42. While combining all the above mentioned 4 parameters Jammu gets 48 while Kashmir 42. These have been worked out on the basis of purely factual data without assigning any weights.
After assigning the proposed weights as mentioned in the previous paragraphs, parameters of area gives Jammu 17 constituencies and 10 to Kashmir. In case of population Kashmir gets 15 and Jammu 12. Communication places 10 numbers to Jammu and 8 to Kashmir. The conveniences parameter gets 10 to Jammu and 8 to Kashmir. After combining all the factors i.e. Area, Population, communication and Conveniences the Jammu share goes 49 and Kashmir to 41.
H C Katoch