Maharashtra's Thane split to carve out state's 36th district, Palghar

Thane, India's most populous district, has been split to carve out Palghar, which will now form Maharashtra's 36th district, following a decision by the state cabinet on Friday.

With Palghar as its headquarters, the new district will comprise eight talukas, including Palghar, Vasai, Mokhada, Talasari, Jawahar, Wada, Dahanu and Vikramgad, with a large tribal populace living in remote areas.

The residual Thane district, which is mostly urban, will have seven talukas, including Thane, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Ulhasnagar, Murbad, Ambernath and Shahapur.

With the division, much of Thane district's large tribal population will come under the new Palghar district, which will help the tribal population get better and faster access to government services, say district officials.

They say the division has been driven by administrative convenience. With a new collectorate coming up in Palghar, the district headquarters will become more accessible to people living in the tribal belt of Palghar. It would also reduce the distance and travel expenses for people living in other talukas as well.

Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan said the new district would start functioning by 15 August and will have 56 government offices located in Palghar to start with.

"The new district will need about 4,300 government employees, including 155 Class-I officers to manage the daily administration," officials of the Thane collectorate said, quoting from an earlier report prepared by the Konkan divisional commissioner.

The report, prepared by then Konkan divisional commissioner Vijay Nahata, is also reported to have suggested two names for the new district - the existing Palghar or rename it 'Sagar' due to its largely coastal nature.

The creation of the new administrative headquarters and the initiation of the various schemes will cost the state government around Rs466 crore. Sources said the state currently has a budget provision of a little over Rs300 crore to set up the offices of the district collector, superintendent of police, district court and zilla parishad office.

The state government, however, has earmarked funds for tribal development and with the formation of Palghar, utilisation of funds will be better.

With the division of Thane, the district's representation in the assembly will reduce to 18 from the existing 24 MLAs. Palghar will have six assembly segments.

The decision to split Thane has given rise to demands for the division of other bigger districts like Nagpur, Gadchiroli, Chandrapur, Buldana, Amravati, Yavatmal and Wardha.