NEW DELHI: The Assam government on Saturday decided to merge four districts with four others and change the administrative jurisdiction of several villages, a day before the Election Commission’s freeze on redrawing of administrative units comes into effect.
Announcing this at a press conference here after the state cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the decisions were taken with a heavy heart keeping in mind the interests of Assam, its society, and administrative requirements. He added that it was only “temporary” and did not disclose the reason for the decision.
“While Biswanath district will be merged with Sonitpur, Hojai will be merged with Nagaon, Bajali will be merged with Barpeta and Tamulpur will be merged with Baksa,” he said.
The decisions had to be taken at the cabinet meeting on Saturday as the Election Commission imposed a ban on the creation of new administrative units in Assam from January 1, 2023, as the panel will conduct the delimitation exercise in the state. At the meeting of the provincial cabinet, there was also a change in the administrative jurisdiction of some municipalities and several cities.
The merged districts were mostly formed in the recent past and Sarma said he wanted to apologize to the people of these districts but hoped they would understand the importance of the decision.
The chief minister said a team of state ministers would visit these districts and interact with leading organizations and citizens to explain the reasons for the decisions, which cannot be made public.
He, however, said that the police and judicial districts of the four merged districts would continue as well as other offices and officials. On December 27, the Election Commission said it had initiated the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam and would use the 2001 census data to adjust the seats.
The commission said there is a ban on the creation of new administrative units in the state from January 1, 2023, until the exercise is completed.
Under the provisions of the Delimitation Act, of 1972, the last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was done on the basis of the 1971 census data by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976, the bench observed.
The move to redraw Assam Assembly and Parliamentary seats under Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 was initiated at the request of the Union Law Ministry.
Delimitation is the process of establishing the limits or boundaries of territorial constituencies in a country or state with a legislative body.
During delimitation, the Commission will keep in mind the physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, communication facilities, and public convenience and wherever possible the constituencies will be kept as geographically compact areas, the EC statement said.
Once the Commission finalizes the proposal for the delimitation of constituencies, the proposal will be published in the Central and State Gazettes where suggestions and objections can be invited from the general public.