Karnataka-Maharashtra border row
Why in news? The inter-State border dispute between Karnataka and Maharashtra erupts every now and then for the border town of Belagavi.
- The border town of Belagavi has been a part of Karnataka since boundaries were demarcated along linguistic lines under the States Reorganisation Act, 1956
- The decades-old dispute flared up again when Karnataka government was considering laying claim to Jath taluk in Maharashtra ,evoking a strong response
- The Karnataka Legislative Assembly, on December 22, unanimously passed a resolution to protect its interests and called the dispute a “closed chapter”
- Maharashtra government retaliated by passing a unanimous resolution in its Assembly to legally pursue the inclusion of Marathi-speaking villages from Belagavi, Karwar, Nipani, Bidar, Bhalkiand others in Karnataka into the State.
What are the claims of the two States?
- In 1957, unhappy with the demarcation of boundaries, Maharashtra demanded realignment of its border with Karnataka.
- It invoked Section 21 (2)(b) of the Act, submitting a MOU to Ministry of Home Affairs stating its objection to Marathi-speaking areas being included in Karnataka.
- It filed a petition in the Supreme Court staking a claim over Belagavi.
- Karnataka has cited the demarcation done on linguistic lines as per the Act and the 1967 Mahajan Commission Report to substantiate its position.
- Karnataka has argued for the inclusion of areas in Kolhapur, Sholapur and Sangli districts (falling under Maharashtra) in its territory.
- From 2006, Karnataka started holding the winter session of the Legislature in Belagavi, building the massive Suvarna Vidhana Soudha in the district headquarters to reassert its claim.
What has been the politics around the dispute?
- Maharashtra Ekikarana Samiti (MES) sustaining its fight with a single agenda Belagavi’s inclusion into Maharashtra.
- The dispute strongly resonates in the cultural arena too.
For instance, two Sahitya Sammelanas the 73rd Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelana (ABMSS) and the 70th Akila Bharatiya Kannada Sahitya Sammelana were held in Belagavi in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
- Both events prepared the ground for the re-opening of an otherwise muted issue.
What were the terms of the Mahajan Commission?
- In 1966, at Maharashtra’s insistence, the then PM Indira Gandhi established a one-man commission led by Mehr Chand Mahajan, recommended that 264 villages be transferred to Maharashtra and that Belagavi (Belgaum) and 247 villages remain with Karnataka.
- Maharashtra rejected the report, while Karnataka welcomed it.
- Karnataka argued that either the Mahajan Commission Report should be accepted fully, or the status quo maintained.
What is the recent controversy around Jath taluk?
- Controversy started after Karnataka government claimed for “seriously considering” laying a claim on Jath taluk and held meetings with senior advocates to resolve the boundary issue.
- In 2021, all 40 gram panchayats of the drought-prone Jath taluk passed a resolution to join Karnataka, stating that the Maharashtra government was unable to provide water to its people and they were being treated unfairly.