Explained — From 32 to 35 in 6 months: Why Tamil Nadu is in a rush to create new districts

With the formation of two new districts, the number of districts in Tamil Nadu rises to 35.

The Tamil Nadu government has announced two more districts, taking the number of new districts created so far this year to three, and raising the number of districts in the state to 35.

Tenkasi district carved out of Tirunelveli district, and Chengalpet, south of Chennai, carved out of Kancheepuram district, will become the 34th and 35th districts of Tamil Nadu. In January, the government had announced the creation of the state s 33rd district Kallakurichi, carved out of Villuppuram district, also to the south of Chennai.

Why the new districts?

In a suo motu announcement in the Assembly on Thursday, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said that the districts of Tenkasi and Chengalpet were being created based on the demands from various groups of people.

While announcing the creation of Kallakurichi too, the Chief Minister had told the Assembly on January 8 that the new district was the fulfilment of a longstanding demand by the people. Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam, the MLA from Villuppuram, and R Kumaraguru, the MLA from Ulundurpet, had informed him of the people s demand and the difficulty they faced travelling from remote areas to the district headquarters in Villuppuram, the CM had said.

A top official monitoring the logistics of creating the new Kallakurichi district had said that given the size of Villuppuram at over 7,200 sq km, one of the largest in the state the decision was logically sound , and was likely to improve governance and administration .

Villuppuram itself, of which Kallakurichi had been a part, had been created in 1993 by the government of J Jayalalithaa, which had then cited factors such as better accessibility and governance to split the district of South Arcot into Villuppuram and Cuddalore.

Thus, the concerns of better governance, and demands by the people have historically been the driving forces behind the multiplication of districts in Tamil Nadu.

What happens now?

Chief Minister Palaniswami told the Assembly this week that two IAS officers would be appointed as special officers to carry out the procedures for the creation of the new districts of Tenkasi and Chengalpet.

At the time of the creation of Kallakurichi too, the CM had said that an IAS officer would be appointed to complete the administrative work involved in creating the district. Officials had said this special officer would be appointed in 15 days, and that the officer would, in coordination with the commissioner of revenue administration, complete basic procedures and assessments within three months.

The procedures for creating a new district broadly include the drawing of boundaries, and deciding the blocks and taluks of the new district. After the state government conveys its formal acceptance of the plan, the new district administration, including the revenue and police departments, are put in place.

Earlier districts in the state

Tamil Nadu has a long history of bifurcation processes since Independence, by which the large districts of the Raj have been gradually split into smaller ones, mostly following a norm of keeping the borders of the district around 100 km from the district headquarters.

Thus, Krishnagiri district which was carved out of the erstwhile Dharmapuri district in 2004, Tirupur district from Coimbatore and Erode districts in 2009, and Thanjavur district was earlier split into three districts — Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam — in 1996.

While Salem, once the biggest district in the state, was split into four — Salem, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Namakkal — in different stages, two of the state’s most backward districts, Ariyalur and Perambalur, and Karur, were carved out of Trichy district.

The old Ramanathapuram district was pided into Ramanathapuram, Sivagangai and Virudhunagar districts. Theni was formed after Madurai was bifurcated.

Other pending demands

In Pollachi of Coimbatore district, there has been a demand for a separate district, with people citing various issues related to better and more effective administration. Similarly, in Sankarankovil, the second largest municipality in Tirunelveli, people have been demanding a separate district.