Festive mood In Telangana as 21 districts unveiled
Hyderabad: October 11, 2016, would remain a very important date in the Telangana State calendar. It is as important as June 2 when the 29th State of India came into being. This is a historic day for the people of Telangana as one of the promises made by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, during his campaign for a separate State and in the run-up to the Assembly elections in 2014, on reorganization of the districts has been fulfilled in style. 11.13 am is the time decided by the CM when all the new 21 district collectors’ offices were declared open by ministers, Speaker of the Assembly, Deputy Speaker, Chairman of the Legislative Council and other dignitaries. KCR said at the time of inauguration of the new State that having achieved the State, steps have to be taken to correct the historical mistakes. Reorganisation of the districts is one such major correction.
KCR himself has inaugurated Siddipet district (pic courtesy PTI), his first constituency from where he was elected to Assembly several time. The present incumbent and minister of major irrigation, Harish Rao, was also present on the occasion. The elaborate exercise of reorganizing the districts was taken up after a gap of 38 years. This will lead to devolution of powers and decentralized growth to a considerable extent and governance would improve dramatically. The collector and his team would be able to concentrate on a smaller area and work in tandem for larger growth. This would also put brakes on the urbanization phenomenon. Villages could have drinking water, thanks to Mission Bhagiratha, and tanks sans silt, thanks to Mission Kakatiya, and the centre of revenue administration will be within reach. Though both Bhagiratha and Kakatiya missions might take time to fulfill their promise, the journey appears to be in the right direction.
The 11th Schedule of the 93rd Constitutional amendment mandates that the State governments should devolve 29 powers and responsibilities to gram panchayats. Though the amendment was made in 1993, no State had implemented the provision fully. Andhra Pradesh was among the last States in the order of implementation. It can be said that virtually no powers were given to the panchayats or zilla parishads.
Moreover, there was a concerted drive to make the local body chiefs irrelevant and incapacitated. In-charge ministers were appointed to shadow the elected chairmen of zilla parishads. The ministers used to report to the chief ministers who took all the decisions in financial matters. The local bodies have no role in planning development programmes.
Experience makes it clear that no government would voluntarily give away powers to the local bodies. In the light of this experience, formation of the new districts has to be welcomed. The new district, as a unit, should get its due by all means. The officers taking care of the district should see that the panchayats and mandal panchayats also get their recognition, powers and duties. Only then the dream of Gandhi to develop gram swarajya would become a reality.
The larges district in area would be Bhadradri (Kothagudem, Palvancha and Bhadrachalam), while the smallest is Hyderabad. The highest populated district would be Hyderabad and the least populated is Rajanna district comprising Siricilla and Vemulawada. Maximum districts, five, were carved out of the old Warangal district while Hyderabad district remained unchanged. The average area of the district in Telangana now is 3,704 sq km.
Deputy Chief Minister Mahamood Ali has inaugurated Jagityal district while another deputy CM Kadiam Srihari has launched Warangal Rural district. Yadadri was inaugurated by Home Minister Nayani Narisimha Reddy and Peddapally by Revenue Minister Etala Rajender. Pocharam Srinivasa Reddy, Agriculture Minister, has declared open Kamareddy; T Padma Rao, Manchiriyal; P Mahender Reddy, Vikarabad; K Taraka Rama Rao, Rajanna; Jogu Ramanna, Komuram Bheem (Asifabad); Jagadish Reddy, Suryapet; Tummala Nageswar Rao, Bhadradri (Kothagudem); Indrakaran Reddy, Nirmal; Laxma Reddy, Jogulamba (Gadwal); Jupalli Krishna Rao, Nagar Kurnool; Azmira Chandulal, Mahaboobabad; Padma Devender, Medak; Swami Gowd, Jangoan; Madhusudana Chary, Bhupalapalli; and chairman of Telangana State Planning Commission Niranjan Reddy inaugurated Vanaparthy district.
The whole exercise should help in decentralized development. It depends on the involvement of the people’s representatives and the initiatives taken by the district officials led by collectors and their energy and motivation levels. But in theory, it is a perfect idea. There has been a lot of concentration on Hyderabad around which all the development took place. Now Hyderabad has reached a stage where it would develop on its own. The governments have to only provide some extra facilities and get the existing facilities repaired, fortified and extended. If the government concentrates on the new districts, they will become development hubs and migration of the people from villages to cities and towns would recede to a great extent. There are many shortcomings on the part of the Telangana government, but this particular initiative has to be lauded whole-heartedly. The move has changed the map of Telangana and it is sure to alter the ethos.