New Delhi: The Assam government on Saturday, December 31, decided to merge four districts with four others and changed the administrative jurisdiction of a few villages, a day before the Election Commission’s freeze on redrawing administrative units comes into effect.
Announcing this at a press conference here after a meeting of the state cabinet, chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the decisions have been taken with a heavy heart keeping in mind the interests of Assam, its society and administrative exigencies. He added it was only “temporary” and did not disclose the reason behind 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 has imposed a ban on creating new administrative units in Assam from January 1 as the poll panel will undertake the delimitation exercise in the state.
The administrative jurisdiction of some villages and a few towns have also been changed at the state cabinet meeting.
The merged districts were mostly created in the recent past and Sarma said he wanted to apologise to the people of these districts but hoped that they would understand the importance of the decisions.
The chief minister said a team of state ministers will visit these districts and interact with leading organisations and citizens to explain the reasons behind the decisions which can’t be disclosed publicly.
He, however, said the police and judicial districts of the four merged districts will continue as they are along with other offices and officers.
The Election Commission on December 27 said it initiated the delimitation of assembly and parliamentary constituencies in Assam and will use the 2001 census figures for the readjustment of seats.
The Commission said a ban has been put in place effective January 1 on the creation of new administrative units in the state till the exercise is completed.
Under the provisions of the Delimitation Act, 1972, the last delimitation of constituencies in Assam was effected on the basis of 1971 census figures by the then Delimitation Commission in 1976, the poll panel noted.
The move to redraw the assembly and parliamentary seats of Assam as per Section 8A of the Representation of the People Act, 1950 has been initiated following a request from the Union Law Ministry.
Delimitation is the process of fixing limits or boundaries of the territorial constituencies in a country or a state with a legislative body.
During the delimitation exercise, the Commission will keep in mind the physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facility of communication and public convenience, and as far as practicable, the constituencies will be kept as geographically compact areas, the EC statement noted.
Once a draft proposal for the delimitation of constituencies is finalised by the Commission, it will be published in the central and state gazettes for inviting suggestions and objections from the general public.