Path also cleared for setting up a Delimitation Commission to distribute 90 Segments of LA of UT of J&K
By Daya SagarJ&K Representation of the People Act 1957 has now been deleted and instead delimitation will have to be now done as per Representations of the Peoples Act 1950 ( as amended from time to time ) read with Sections -59, 60 of the Bill No XXIX of 2019 keeping in view the parameters as laid in Sub- Clause-2 of Clause-60 that reads ::: ” In determining the matters referred to in clauses (b) and (c) of sub-section (1), the Election Commission shall have regard to the following provisions, namely:- (a) all the constituencies shall be single-member constituencies; (b) all constituencies shall, as far as practicable, be geographically compact areas, and in delimiting them, regard shall be had to physical features, existing boundaries of administrative units, facilities of communication and conveniences to the public; and (c) constituencies in which seats are reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes shall, as far as practicable, be located in areas where the proportion of their population to the total population is the largest.” And of course delimitation has to be done as per census data of 2011 instead of that to be announced after 2026. Therefore, since the parameters specified for the guidance of delimitation commission that can now be appointed by the Election Commission of India also include (i) geographically compactness (ii) physical features ( surely it means terrain) (iii) existing boundaries of administrative units (iv) facilities of communication and conveniences to the public in the area in addition to population and reference of district administrative units has also ben made as a parameter to be kept in consideration so there is utmost need for reorganisation of district administrative units presently falling in the Union Territory of J&K keeping in view that before 1979 Jammu Region had 6 districts ( Doda, Udhampur,Kathua, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch ) Kashmir region had 3 districts ( Baramulla, Anantnag, Srinagar ) and Ladakh region had one district when in 1979 districts in Kashmir region were increased to 6 from 3 ( SRO 306 of 6/6/1979 Baramulla, Kupwara,Anantnag,Pulwama, Srinagar, Badgam) , Ladakh region to 2 from 1 ( Leh , Kargil) and in Jammu region the number was still kept only 6 (Doda, Udhampur,Kathua, Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch ) . Right since 1979 there have been demands for proportional increase of districts in Jammu region too keeping in view that a large population and large area of Jammu region has comparatively more of backwardness in comparison. The corrections were not applied by Congress – PDP Government even in 2006-07 ( SRO 185 of 22 May 2007 ) when districts in Kashmir valley were increased from 6 to 10 ( 300 % more than what Wazir Commission had recommended in 1984) along with Jammu region where also number as increased to only too to only 10 ( only 33% more than what Wazir Commission had recommended in 1984 ) with no increase in Ladakh region. There would have been atleast 5 to 6 more Districts in Jammu Region i.e atleast 15 to 16 districts in Jammu region ( 26293 sq km) as against only 10 in Kashmir region ( 15948 sq km) going by the scale under which districts like Ganderbal ( 259 sq km) , Shopian ( 312 sq km and only one tehsil) , Bandipora ( 345sq km) and Kulgam ( 410 sq km) were created in 2006-07 in Kashmir valley where as a district like Rajouri that had an area of 2630 sq .kms and 7 tehsils in 2006 itself was not split even in two districts. People of Rajouri district did demand in 2018 that Rajouri district be split into atleast 2 districts but the same was not accepted by government. It is not out of place to mention here that the macro planning at national level is also done taking district administrative unit as reference. With the unfair delimitation of assembly segments and reorganisations of district administrative units in the past the remotely placed people of UT of J&K like that of Doda, Kishtwar, Udhampur, Kathua, Rajouri, Baramulla appear to have faced more of neglect How immediate is the need for appointing a Delimitation commission for undoing the unfair treatment given to the most backward & distantly placed people and areas of J&K State in the past by delimitation commissions ( like 1995 order ) could be also well read from the facts like that (i) over Jammu Region of J&K that had as per Section-50 of J&K Constitution 14 elected MLCs only 37 MLA single member segments were distributed where as in Kashmir Valley that had constitutionally only 12 MLCs the 1995 order of J&K Delimitation Commission had distributed 46 MLAs in total defiance to even the then J&K Representation of peoples Act 1957. Not only that the delimitation commissions had not cared to even see the facts that after Pakistan occupied some areas of J&K in October – November 1947 Kashmir Valley was left with just over two districts ( Anantnag, Baramulla and a small part of Muzaffrabad ) where as Jammu Region still had over 4 districts plus two Jagirs ( Poonch & Chenani). In 1979 so unfairly Kashmir region ( less than three districts in 1948) was administratively reorganised into as many as 6 Districts in 1979 but Jammu region ( size of nearly 5+ districts in 1948 ) was also kept with only 6 Districts where as by method of proportions the number of districts in Jammu region should have been raised to atleast 10-11 in 1979 itself if 6 for Valley. In Kashmir valley too ( erstwhile Baramulla District of pre 1979 times) a few people may be feeling neglect compared to some districts in that region and that too if rational could be taken care. But as regards reorganisation of district administrative units / increasing the districts in Jammu region the grievance need be addressed as priority one. So, for the Lt Governor of UT of Jammu and Kashmir, before the Election Commission of India initiates the process for Delimitation of the single member Legislative Assembly segments of UT of J&K in terms of Section-60(1) of the Reorganisation J&K Reorganisation Act of 2019, it will be worth while to first appoint a high power committee for reorganisation of District Administrative Units of Jammu Region so that the irrational administrative reorganisations of district administrative units done in 1979 and 2006 are corrected and the genuine local irritating ‘boils’ are medicated in the greater interest of peace & stability in UT of J&K. UT of Ladakh may too have some points for consideration due to some remotely placed people and that too could be seen. (Daya Sagar is Sr Journalist & leading scribe J&K affairs and can be reached at email@example.com )
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