Committee comprises Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal and BJP minister Manoranjan Kalia
In the wake of demands from various quarters, including members of the ruling Akali-BJP alliance for formation of new districts, the Punjab Government on Thursday constituted a two-member Cabinet sub-committee “to find an appropriate solution to the issue.”
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal set up the committee comprising his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal and Industries and Local Government Minister Manoranjan Kalia of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
A ruling BJP MLA, Surjit Jiyani, and Akali Dal circle president Charan Singh with their supporters began an indefinite fast at Fazilka on Wednesday in support of the demand for carving Fazilka as a separate district out of Ferozepur.
Official sources said the Cabinet sub-committee has been asked to submit its report at the earliest. Punjab at present has 20 districts.
The BJP has also demanded carving Pathankot district out of Gurdaspur while Akali activists have demanded formation of Anandpur Sahib as a district out of Ropar. Demands for the formation of various sub-divisions within the districts have also been made.
Mr. Kalia and BJP State unit chief Ashwani Sharma had told at a joint press conference here on Wednesday that Ferozepur and Gurdaspur were big districts and common people often have to travel long distances to get their work done at district headquarters.
“For example to reach the Ferozepur district headquarters from Abohar in that district, people have to travel about 120 km. Likewise, there are many places in Gurdaspur from where people have to travel quite a distance to reach the district headquarters,” Mr. Sharma said.
Asked which areas could be declared as the new districts, the two leaders said either Abohar or Fazilka in Ferozepur can be named as the new district while Pathankot in Gurdaspur may be granted a similar status.
Mr. Kalia along with Mr. Sharma had met Mr. Badal at his residence here on Wednesday evening, the BJP leader said, adding that the Chief Minister had given a “positive response” to the demand of carving out new districts and offered to take up the issue sympathetically.