Pending since 20 years, the proposal to split Thane - with a population of over 12 million, nearly 10 percent of the state population - was approved by the state cabinet here Friday, but immediately sparked protests from various opposition parties, including the Shiv Sena.
Besides being the most populous district in the country, it also has the largest number of seven municipal corporations for any district in the country, nestling in its 9,600 sq. km area.
In Maharashtra, after Mumbai, it is the second biggest in terms of number of assembly segments - 24 in four Lok Sabha constituencies, and is the third most industrialized district in the state.
A new district of Palghar will be carved out of Thane soon
With history dating it back to 1817, Thane today offers some stark contrasts. On one hand, with the ongoing urbanization Thane city is dotted with skyscrapers, swank malls and multiplexes, flyovers and wide roads, and on the other, barely a few score km away are some of the most wretched tribal villages and hamlets in the hilly forested regions and tiny fishing villages on the coast.
Terming the bifurcation as politically motivated in view of the ensuing assembly elections, the Shiv Sena and other parties had demanded trifurcation on the basis of the coastal, hilly and urban make-up of Thane.
Vasai Independent legislator Vivek Pandit has demanded that since the problems of these three distinct areas are different, the state government should have split Thane into three districts to serve the people better.
This is the first major bifurcation of a district after 1999, when Gondiya and Gadchiroli were created in the eastern Vidarbha region of the state, taking the total count to 35 districts in Maharashtra.
After the creation of Palghar - by Aug 15 - the state will have 36 districts.