Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Friday announced his government's decision to form 19 new districts and three new divisions in the state, earmarking Rs 2,000 crore for development of infrastructure for them.
This is the first time since 2008 that new districts are being carved out, taking the number of districts to 50 in the state.
Gehlot made the announcement in the Rajasthan assembly, which also passed the 2023-24 Budget with a voice vote.
He said a high-level committee was formed to study the formation of new districts and the state government has received a report.
"In this way, the state will now have 19 new districts," the chief minister said during a discussion on the Budget.
The three new divisions will be in Banswara, Pali and Sikar, he said.
For the new districts and divisions, he proposed a budget of Rs 2,000 crore for the first phase of implementation of infrastructure and human resource development.
New districts are being formed after 15 years. In 2008, the then chief minister Vasundhara Raje had made Pratapgarh a district.
Geographically, Rajasthan is the biggest state in the country and some of the places are more than 100 kilometers far from their district's headquarters, and so people face problems, Gehlot said.
"Small districts lead to effective administration, management, and control over law and order gets easy. Various states in the country have been ahead in forming new districts. So, there was a demand within the state to make new districts," he said.
The new districts are Anoopgarh, which was part of Ganganagar; Balotra (Barmer); Beawar (Ajmer); Kekri (Ajmer); Deeg (Bharatpur); Deedwana-Kuchaman (Nagaur); Dudu (Jaipur); Gangapur City (Sawai Madhopur); Jaipur North; Jaipur South; Jodhpur East; Jodhpur West; Kotputli-Behror (Jaipur-Alwar); Khertal (Alwar); Neem kaThana (Sikar); Phalodi (Jodhpur); Salumber (Udaipur); Sanchore (Jalore); and Shahpura (Bhilwara).
In the past, several legislators have demanded that their towns be upgraded to districts.
Congress legislator Madan Prajapat had declared to walk bare feet until the state government announced Balotra a new district.
Gehlot also announced to start the increased Rs 25 lakh package of the Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme from March 30.
Earlier, the package was capped at Rs 10 lakh a family.
Replying to the discussion on the budget, the chief minister said providing effective, transparent and sensitive administration is his government's commitment.
The state government has implemented various public welfare schemes and to ensure these schemes reach every village and hamlet, it is required to work with full sensitivity at the district level, he said.
The chief minister also hit out at the Centre on the Old Pension Scheme (OPS) issue, saying, "The prime minister and the finance minister are opposing the OPS but it will not stop, and we will also approach the Supreme Court."
"The OPS should be implemented across the country. Why is there biases, the OPS' benefits are given to the army and the air force but not to CRPF and others," Gehlot said.
"Even the prime minister before the (Lok Sabha) polls has to take some decision on the OPS as sit-ins are taking place in many places by employees. The decision to revert to OPS by states is taken on humanitarian grounds," he said.
Slamming the Opposition BJP for terming the budget misguided, Gehlot alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party in Rajasthan is misguiding the House and the public.
The chief minister said this is the fifth budget of the government, which had no new taxes. The budgets and schemes of the government have been appreciated by the people, he said.
He also announced a 10 per cent increase in pension of state pensioners above the age of 75 years.
"Pensioners above 80 years of age in the state get the benefit of increase in pension amount. Keeping in view the additional financial security, the government has decided to announce 10 per cent additional allowance on the basic in the pension amount to the pensioner above 75 years of age," Gehlot said.
He announced the construction of a corridor in Jaipur's Govinddev Ji Temple on the lines of Ujjain's Mahakal and said Rs 100 crore would be spent for this work.
The chief minister announced preparation of a DPR for the development of famous temples such as Pushkar, Tripura Sundari, Sanvaliyaji, Salasar, Khole ke Hanuman Mandir, Tanot Mata and Shrinathji.
The Speaker declared MLA Amin Khan as the best MLA for 2022 and Anita Bhadel as the best MLA for 2023. These MLAs will be honored on March 20.
Earlier, criticising the state budget, deputy leader of opposition Rajendra Rathore said, "The government which is facing infighting for the last four years has presented its last budget. But this budget will not come on grounds as it is impractical, looking at polls and misguiding."