Rashmi Rekha Das

After Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik promised district status to Padampur sub division ahead of the bypoll to Padampur Assembly Constituency, demand for district status for 10 other places has gathered steam in the state.

Going by the BJD Supremo Naveen Patnaik’s assurance, Padampur will get district tag by December 31, 2023. Meanwhile, Chief Minister’s statement has prompted residents of 10 places to launch protest seeking district status for their regions.

Dharmagarh in Kalahandi district, Titlagarh in Bolangir district, Rairangpur in Mayubhanj district, Rourkela in Sundargarh district, Berhampur in Ganjam district, Anandpur in Keonjhar district, Gunupur in Rayagada district, Talcher in Angul district and Jaleswar in Balasore district are places crying to get district status. Besides, some people have raised their voice seeking district status for Bhubaneswar and Paradip as well. People in these places have been staging protest and sit-ins for the fulfilment of their demands.

It is said that protest for district status to these places will gain momentum before 2024 General Elections.

Protestors have, meanwhile, made it clear that if their demands are not met, the state government will see its impact in 2024 General Elections.

Keeping the rising protests across the state in mind, it is said that the state government is mulling to increase the number of districts. 

Government sources revealed that discussions are going on to add six more districts such as Rourkela, Rajgangpur, Rairangpur, Bhubaneswar, Padampur and Titlagarh. Before formation of these districts, the state government will have to set a priority list on basis of which districts will be formed. Later, the government will come up with an executive order. At the end, the government will have to pass reformation bill in the state assembly.

When contacted, Revenue and Disaster Management Minister Pramila Mallick said, “If required, the state government will form more districts. Our Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik will take final decision in this regard.”

Notably, Odisha became a separate Province on April 1, 1936. During the formation of separate state, Odisha had six districts such as Cuttack, Puri, Balasore, Sambalpur, Ganjam and Koraput. After India got freedom in 1948, seven more districts such as Dhenkanal, Keonjhar, Sundargarh, Mayurbhanj, Phulbani, Bolangir and Kalahandi were added taking the number of districts to 13. 

In 1993, the former Chief Minister of Odisha Biju Patnaik formed 17 more districts which took the total number of districts to 30.