District formation in India


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: District formation

Mains level: Not Much

This newscard is an excerpt from the original article published in the DownToEarth.

What are Districts?

  • India’s districts are local administrative units inherited from the British Raj.
  • They generally form the tier of local government immediately below that of India’s subnational states and territories.
  • A district is headed by a Deputy Commissioner/ Collector, who is responsible for the overall administration and the maintenance of law and order.
  • The district collector may belong to IAS (Indian Administrative Service).
  • Districts are most frequently further sub-divided into smaller administrative units, called either tehsils or talukas or mandals, depending on the region.

How are new districts carved?

  • The power to create new districts or alter or abolish existing districts rests with the State governments.
  • This can either be done through an executive order or by passing a law in the State Assembly.
  • Many States prefer the executive route by simply issuing a notification in the official gazette.

Does the Central government have a role to play here?

  • The Centre has no role to play in the alteration of districts or creation of new ones. States are free to decide.
  • The Home Ministry comes into the picture when a State wants to change the name of a district or a railway station.
  • The State government’s request is sent to other departments and agencies such as the Ministry of Earth Sciences, Intelligence Bureau, Department of Posts, Geographical Survey of India Sciences and the Railway Ministry seeking clearance.
  • A no-objection certificate may be issued after examining their replies.

Why create districts?

  • A district enjoys multiple benefits in terms of endowments from the government for local administration and development.
  • The formation of districts leads to the development of infrastructure, including transportation, telecommunication, water, sanitation, health, education and power facilities.
  • A good infrastructure attracts potential investors and investments.
  • New businesses and industries emerge and existing ones expand.
  • This generates employment opportunities for the citizens in and around the district.


  • The question that arises is what limits a state to declare each place a district.
  • The answer lies in the cost associated with the formation of a district.
  • A district requires installing administrative offices and deploying officers and public servants.
  • This adds to the burden on the government exchequer.

Way forward

  • It is also essential to consult the local people who are the end beneficiaries of the decision to understand their aspirations and win their confidence.
  • This will potentially mitigate the issues and conflicts between people and government and thereby satisfy the people’s needs at large, which is essential for inclusive growth of state and nation.


  • In sum, any political change regarding the formation of a district in a state comes with its own advantages and challenges.
  • Thus, the government and policymakers must mull over the decision and perform a cost-benefit analysis before district formation.


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