Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Gradually Stabilizing Telangana New Districts : Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

Gradually Stabilizing Telangana New Districts
Vanam Jwala Narasimha Rao

            Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao laid the foundation stone for state-of-the-art integrated District Collectorate Complexes in Siddipet and Rajanna-Siricilla districts on 11th October 2017 coinciding the one-year celebration of the district reorganization. His cabinet colleagues simultaneously laid foundation stone in 15 other districts while Assembly Speaker did it in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district. The massive exercise marked a new era in district administration in the country’s youngest state.

Details of places and ministers who laid the foundation stone are: Deputy Chief Minister Kadiam Srihari in Jangaon, Deputy Chief Minister Mehmood Ali in Wanaparthy, Health Minister Laxma Reddy in Gadwal, Panchayat Raj Minister Jupally Krishna Rao in Nagar Kurnool, Forest Minister Jogu Ramanna in Asifabad, Home Minister Nayani Narasimha Reddy in Mancherial and Peddapally, Animal Husbandry Minister Srinivas Yadav in Medchal, Excise Minister Padma Rao in Rangareddy, Transport Minister Mahender Reddy in Vikarabad, Finance Minister Etela Rajender in Jagityal, Agriculture Minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy in Kamareddy, Endowments and Housing Minister Indrakaran Reddy in Nirmal and Speaker Madusudhanachary in Bhupalpally. CM KCR will lay foundation stone in Suryapet on 12th October 2017.

            The integrated Collectorate Complexes are being constructed at an estimated expenditure of Rs. 1032 Crores and these are expected to be completed by June 2, 2018 coinciding with that year’s state formation day. Under the first phase foundation stones are laid for 17 new districts where land acquisition and tender process have been completed. 36 departments will be accommodated under one roof in the Collectorate complex along with District Collector, Joint Collector, their residences and quarters for revenue officials spread over 25-40 acres.

CM KCR while laying foundation stone in Siddipet and Siricilla announced a series of sops. He also recalled the 1982 incident, when he lost election as TDP candidate from Siddipet Assembly Segment, and submitted a memorandum to the then CM NT Rama Rao asking him to create Siddipet district. “I dreamt of having Siddipet district and I as CM has signed on it,” the CM said.  An additional Rs 25 crore for the development of Komati Cheruvu and to make Komuravelli Dev Sagar 165 acres into a beautiful tourism spot; Rs 10 crore for setting up the cottages; New government offices at Cheriyal, Dubbaka, Husnabad; to make Cheriyal Gram Panchayat as a Municipality; roads for Madduru Husnabad Thandas and 1000 more double bed room houses are the announcements made by CM.

CM also announced sanction of Rs 25 Lakh funds for each for the 211-gram panchayats in Siricilla district; Rs 5 lakh each to the Hamlets numbering 123 and 50 Thandas; 10 per cent subsidy on yarn and chemicals to power loom sector; site and sheds to the power loom owners; training to wives of the power loom workers and Rs 800 Crore support to the power loom industry.

One year down the line since the reorganization of districts, in Telangana state, a major achievement of the whole process is that the districts have shortened in size and the Collectors are able to visit nook and corners of their districts more frequently. The reorganization of the districts and increasing their numbers from 10 to 31 done on 11th October 2016, exactly a year ago, was undoubtedly a major administrative reform for better administration and development. The main intention behind the creation of new districts was to take administration to the door-steps of people.

            Besides the 21 New Districts, the government also created 25 new Revenue Divisions and 125 additional Mandals on last year Vijayadashami day. There was a change in police administration too simultaneously by forming five new Police Commissionerates, 23 new Police Divisions, 28 Circle Offices and 91 Police Stations.

            The initial resistance and namesake protests from certain quarters on the reorganization of districts when government opened portal eliciting suggestions from public as part of its notification on August 22, 2016 did not lost long and generally people welcomed the reorganization on completion. Taking public opinion in to consideration the Chief Minister conceded formation of districts like Gadwal, Asifabad, Siricilla and Jangaon and the same was finalised in the Cabinet Meeting held on October 8, 2016. Originally the Government issued an ordinance amending the Telangana Districts (Formation) Act, 1974 on October 8, 2016 with 27 districts.

            Hyderabad district remained untouched in the reorganization while the geographical boundaries of all the other 9 districts underwent significant change. When the final day of formation approached on October 11, 2016 the Government issued orders in the early hours of that day appointing Collectors, Superintendents of Police and Commissioners of Police besides large number of other supporting staff. The Chief Minister inaugurated Siddipet District while other Ministers and selected officials inaugurated other districts.

            With the formation of new districts and increasing their number to 31, people find it more convenient to approach government agencies. Districts reorganisation was a massive exercise taken up by Telangana, not attempted by any State in the country. Any pro-people exercise of such magnitude will take time to stabilise. And government is getting there, overcoming the twin challenges of infrastructure and staff shortage in the new districts according to Chief Secretary SP Singh.

            Speaking to The Hindu paper in the light of first anniversary of districts’ reorganisation on October 11, 2017, the Chief Secretary said that the objective of reorganisation was taking administration closer to people and improving quality of governance and services. CS said that the objective has been realized in the sense that there is much better reach of administration. People are finding it easier and more convenient to approach government agencies and access information as well as service delivery.

The biggest take away in the exercise, Singh said, was enhanced level of leadership, zeal and commitment reflected in the functioning of District Collectors. As the first Collectors of new districts, they had to build systems and create a work culture. “I see that the Collectors are hands on with data, information which they are leveraging for proper designing of programmes for different sections of society and areas” opined the Chief Secretary.

On provision of infrastructure, the CS said that about ₹1,500 crore budgets has been sanctioned for construction of 26 integrated district office complexes. Tenders have been finalised and work has started. The complexes will be ready within a year says CS. He also said that an integrated district office complex housing all department offices at one place along with the Collectorate ensures better coordination among different wings. The Government also sanctioned District Police Complexes at 13 places and two Police Commissionerates in Siddipet and Ramagundam. Land was being identified for the complexes in other new districts, he said.

On the new district administrations and provision of staff Singh said that posts were sanctioned on a priority basis in the important Revenue and Police departments and recruitment was on for 2,500 posts in the revenue department. CS also said that the State had written to the Centre for cadre strength revision to address shortage of IAS officers. It will be done over the next three to four years.

The Chief Secretary does not feel that fund allocation for new districts’ infrastructure and flagship programs pose a strain on exchequer. He said that though districts are reorganised, there was no change in population and area. The fund allocation was based on population and areas the flagship programmes would cater to. The Chief Secretary expressed the view that his work load has not gone up due to the reorganization as he requires to communicate with 31 Collectors almost on day-to-day basis instead of the earlier 10. He said that with better communication tools and technology at government disposal, today one can instantly reach out through video conferences, teleconferences, mobile apps and added that the communication has become instant and faster. 

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