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Another round of district bifurcation in Bengal likely next year

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Mamta Banerjee

Speculation is rife that West Bengal is heading for a fresh round of district bifurcation by 2023.

Reportedly a brainchild of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the preparatory planning for this proposed fresh district bifurcation has already started and the plan is currently restricted among a selected members of the cabinet and the top bureaucrats of the state. Although none of the top cabinet members and bureaucrats were willing to make any official comment on this matter, highly placed sources said if the fresh bifurcation is done the total number of districts in West Bengal will increase to 27 from the existing 23.

The planned three new districts will be forked out of the two big districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas. To recall, the two existing districts of North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas were formed by bifurcating the erstwhile undivided 24 Parganas district on March 1, 1980.

A state government official, aware of the planning on the formation of the three new districts, told IANS on condition of anonymity, that the proposed three districts would be Sunderbans, Basirhat and Alipur.

Of the three, the formation of Sunderbans district will be the most complicated process and it will have to be formed by forking out pockets from both North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas district. According to him, the proposed Sunderbans district might be forked out mainly out of Gosaba, Basanti and Kultali areas in South 24 Parganas district as well as Hingalganj and Sandeshkhali blocks in the current North 24 Parganas district.

The state government official also said that the formation process of the planned Basirhat and Alipur districts will be comparatively simple. Alipur might be formed with the pockets forked out of the Kolkata adjacent pockets in South 24 Parganas districts as well as the Assembly constituencies under Diamond Harbour Lok Sabha constituency, where from the MP is the Trinamool Congress’s national general secretary and the chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s nephew Abhishek Banerjee.

On the other hand, the state government official said the proposed Basirhat district would be formed from pockets forked out of the existing Basirhat and Bangaon sub-divisions in North 24 Parganas district.

Since 1980, West Bengal has witnessed district bifurcations for seven times, out of which three developments were during the previous Left Front regime and four developments took place during the current Trinamool Congress regime.

The first event of district bifurcation in the state was on March 1, 1980 when the previous Left Front government was in force with late nonagenarian Indian Marxist, Jyoti Basu as the state chief minister.

The second phase of district bifurcation was on April 1, 1992, when the erstwhile West Dinajpur district was bifurcated into the existing North Dinajpur and South Dinajpur districts. At that point of time the Jyoti Basu-led Left Front government was in power in the state.

The third phase of bifurcation was on January 1, 2002, when the undivided Midnapore district was divided into the existing two districts of East Midnapore and West Midnapore. Mamata Banerjee’s predecessor, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee was the chief minister of West Bengal then.

On June 25, 2014, when the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress regime came to power, the new Alipurduar district was formed by bifurcating Jalpaiguri district.

Again, on February 14, 2017, the hill district of Kalimpong was formed by bifurcating the Darjeeling district.

On April 4, 2017, the formation of the new Jhargram district was formed by bifurcating the West Midnapore district.

Finally, on April 7, 2017, two districts of West Burdwan and East Burdwan were created by bifurcating the erstwhile undivided Burdwan district.

Commenting on the practical justification of the bifurcation of districts, senior political analyst and former registrar of Calcutta University, Raja Gopal Dhar Chakraborty told IANS that formation of smaller districts through bifurcation of bigger districts is always a welcome move.

“First this will provide a relief to the common people from travelling long distances to reach government offices. Secondly, formation of new districts means creation of new government offices which enhances the scope of fresh employment. However, at the same time, I would also like to say that like the formation of new and smaller districts I also do not find any harm in creation of new and smaller states through bifurcation of bigger states. There might be some sentimental issues involved with the bifurcation of states but creation of smaller states enhances administrative advantage,” Dhar Chakraborty said.

National News

Punjab to soon be front-running industrial hub: Mann

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Bhagwant Mann

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday said the current political stability and quick decision-making mechanism, along with out-of-box ideas, will soon make Punjab a front running industrial state in the country.

Amritsar, Feb 7 : Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Tuesday said the current political stability and quick decision-making mechanism, along with out-of-box ideas, will soon make Punjab a front running industrial state in the country.

Interacting with industrialists here during the run-up for progressive Punjab Investment Summit scheduled to be held on February 23-24 in Mohali, he said Punjabis are born to be number one as they have traits of hard work and dedication in their blood.

Mann said due to this spirit, the Punjabis have always excelled in every sphere, adding the entrepreneurs from the state have carved a niche for themselves across the globe.

The day is not far when Punjab will be on the high growth trajectory of industrial growth, he added.

Announcing a major boost to the tourism industry across the state by harnessing the immense potential of this sector, the Chief Minister said the state is blessed with several natural resources which can be developed into international tourist points.

The government is coming up with a concrete proposal for developing Ranjit Sagar Dam, Chohal Dam, Nurpur Bedi, and others into tourist destinations. Mann said these tourist spots have huge potential to put the state on the roadmap of international tourism.

The Chief Minister said the holy city of Amritsar will be further developed into a hub of religious and patriotic tourism. No stone will be left for this noble cause and every effort will be made for the promotion of the tourism sector.

He assured the local industrialists that while promoting the tourism sector, preference will be given to the local industry. Rather than inviting the big players from within the country and abroad, priority will be given to the local industrialists for developing these tourism spots, he said.

Mann said this will allow the local industrialists to flex their muscles in the sector and emerge Punjab as a hub of tourism. The Chief Minister also said the government is also planning to boost the agro-industry in a big way. He said Punjab produces 80 per cent of the total Basmati produced in the country, adding this production will be further enhanced in the coming days.

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Rajnath Singh to host defence ministers’ conclave at Aero India 2023

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rajnath singh

Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host a Defence Ministers’ Conclave on the sidelines of the 14th edition of Aero India being held at Bengaluru, India. The February 14 conclave will comprise defence ministers of friendly countries who would also be attending Aero India 2023.

Bengaluru, Feb 7 : Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host a Defence Ministers’ Conclave on the sidelines of the 14th edition of Aero India being held at Bengaluru, India. The February 14 conclave will comprise defence ministers of friendly countries who would also be attending Aero India 2023.

The conclave would address aspects related to deepening cooperation for capacity building (through investments, R&D, joint venture, co-development, co-production and provisioning of defence equipment), training, space, AI and maritime security to grow together with the broad theme ‘Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence (SPEED), a defence department release stated Tuesday.

The conclave is an opportunity for defence ministers of all foreign friendly countries and India to engage with each other to carry forward the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India, Make for the World’ for a secure and prosperous future for generations to come.

The conclave acquires significance in light of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi push for ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India), in defence sector which is aimed towards increasing indigenous defence manufacturing and production capability to develop a self-sufficient defence ecosystem.

It also envisages involving like-minded nations in developing a reliable supply chain free of exploitation and disruptions by certain players; and provide affordable and robust defence equipment to friendly countries, the release noted.

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Former servicemen said idea of Agniveer came from RSS: Rahul

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Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government over Agnipath scheme and said that it was imposed on Army by the RSS and Home Ministry.

New Delhi, Feb 7 : Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday hit out at the Modi government over Agnipath scheme and said that it was imposed on Army by the RSS and Home Ministry.

“During the Bharat Jodo Yatra, retired officers of Indian Army told us that idea about Agniveer came from RSS and was thrust on the Army. They said we are training 1000s in weapons and then soon after, they will become civilians amid high unemployment. The officers told me that Ajit Doval is the man behind this idea,” Rahul Gandhi said in the Motion of Thanks on President’s address.

“How is it that the Agniveer Yojana was mentioned only once in the President’s speech? There was no word on unemployment and inflation in the address. So all the issues that people told me about during the yatra, we didn’t hear in the President’s address,” he added amid uproar.

“During ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, we heard people’s voices while we also kept our voices. We talked to children, women, and the elderly during the yatra. We asked the youth about their jobs… Many said they are unemployed or drive Uber. Farmers talked about not getting money under PM-BIMA Yojana and their land being snatched away, while tribals talked about Tribal Bill.”

“When we first started walking (referring to Bharat Jodo Yatra), we wanted to play the opposition and tell people about issues facing the country. However, as we progressed, after 500-600 kms, there was a major change. Instead of us telling the people the source of their problems, they themselves started speaking to us,” he said.

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